On October 10, 2013, Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, age 29, wore custom-made lime green cleats, while playing against the New York Giants, at Soldier Field, in Chicago, Illinois.
Marshall’s cleats of choice were an attempt to bring awareness to the issue of mental illness, during Mental Illness Awareness Week (which is October 6-12, 2013).
It’s a great thing that Marshall is feeling charitable, because his fashion choice is going to cost him a yet undetermined fine, issued to him by the National Football League (NFL).
Why was Brandon Marshall fined?
The National Football League (NFL) has specific guidelines that individual team members, the clubs and overall NFL must adhere to.
“All visible items worn on game-day by players must be issued by the club or the League, or, if from outside sources, must have approval in advance by the League office.”
Official NFL Playing Rules 30, Section 4 Equipment, Uniforms, Players Appearance, General Policies, Article 1 excerpt.
Indeed, the NFL Rule Book has an entire section “g” related to shoes, stating that the shoe must be black, white and one dominant color as agreed on by the team and that no shoe/apparel may be worn at any time to convey a personal message.
Surely, Brandon Marshall has seen the NFL Rule Book and probably knows the guidelines in and out.
So, why would Brandon Marshall break fashion code, aka NFL uniform guidelines, and venture into lime green cleats?
He said he wanted to bring awareness to mental illness, during Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Maybe he thought to do so when he put his helmet on this month and noticed the pretty little NFL Pink Ribbon (see photo attached). The NFL Pink Ribbon is symbolic of the national observance in the month of October of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During the month of October several players, referees and cheerleaders don the famous pink color and/or ribbons to show their support of one of the most famous charity programs in the United States. (See photo of October 7, 2013, player wearing NFL-issued/approved pink gear during New York Jets versus Atlanta Falcons game.)
Where Brandon Marshall went wrong is that he had custom-made lime green cleats, that were not in alignment with his team dominate color (orange) and he did not get them approved by the NFL prior to wearing them on game day. Thus, he was fined.
What are Brandon Marshall’s thoughts regarding the fine?
Brandon Marshal plans to match the fine, with match money going directly to benefit the issues of mental illness.
“The money the league will fine me is nothing compared to the awareness raised tonight.” Twitter post from Brandon Marshall after being notified that he will be fined for cleats.
Interestingly enough, the NFL Rule Book that this examiner was able to obtain lists penalties consistent with forcing a player to change into appropriate attire at change of game or being pulled out of game and possibly suspended. No where in the literature does it give the option to receiving a monetary fine and being allowed to continue to play with unapproved gear on.
Why is Brandon Marshall so passionate about raising awareness about mental illness?
In 2011, Marshall made public that he had been diagnosed with borderline bipolar disorder. He then went on to create a foundation, the Brandon Marshall Foundation, to bring awareness to and seek assistance for the issue of mental illness.
After the game, Marshall auctioned off the colorful cleats with bids exceeding $2,000. Of course, the proceeds went to benefit the Brandon Marshall Foundation.