A little pink and a little compassion could go a long way for the NFL

Poor Dorial Green-Beckham. He’s the Tennessee Titans player arrested for an unpaid speeding ticket on September 30. Compared with other reasons NFL players get in trouble with the law, Green-Beckham’s infraction is minor. Except for the fact that he ruined a record for the NFL: Its first whole month in six years without a player arrest.

Given that kind of consistency, it’s easy to understand why Roger Goodall and the NFL wouldn’t recognize normal, even admirable behavior when it’s right in front of their collective faces: wearing pink.

That’s what Pittsburgh Steeler DeAngelo Williams wanted to do. Williams’ mother died of breast cancer in 2014, motivating her son to want to wear something pink during games to honor her and raise awareness about the disease. ESPN reports that her death was part of the justification for players to wear something pink during the month of October.

But when Williams requested that he be allowed to continue the symbolism during games for the rest of the season, the NFL said no.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams arrives at Heinz Field to play the Baltimore Ravens. (Charles LeClaire | USA TODAY Sports)

Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams arrives at Heinz Field to play the Baltimore Ravens. (Charles LeClaire | USA TODAY Sports)

Is the NFL worried that raising awareness about breast cancer and honoring the woman that birthed one of their great players might tarnish their image? Hello? Goodall needs to take a hard look at the image he is already driving into the ground.

There’s Greg Hardy objectifying women in press conferences leading up to his return to Dallas after a four-game suspension for a domestic violence incident. Originally he was convicted, but the charges were dismissed when the victim failed to cooperate with prosecutors during his appeal. In the interim between the trials, the victim received a civil settlement from Hardy.

Hardy’s involvement in the incident garnered him a four-game suspension — the same suspension Goodall wanted to give Brady for deflategate and two games more than Ray Rice initially received for his domestic violence incident that involved punching his wife, then fiancee, unconscious and dragging her from an elevator.

No wonder Goodall doesn’t know what to do with Williams and his breast cancer awareness campaign. Last season during an interview Williams talked about a woman telling him she was going to get screened after seeing him wear pink cleats. Contrast that with Hardy’s comments about Brady’s wife and other partners of players, and I’d think Goodall would be all over letting Williams wear pink.

Instead of denying the request, Goodall should have encouraged other players and sponsors to continue the theme throughout the season — even if only for karma or some kind of penance after all the domestic violence crap. Or he could have allowed it as a thank you to all the moms out there who destroyed their bodies birthing those athletes. Or he could have done it because it’s the right thing to do and the franchise could use a little good press about doing the right things.

Goodall is fostering a pretty negative environment. I cringed when I watched reporters play to Hardy’s tune during one of his conferences. Then there’s all the crying about the Patriots cheating this season. Could it be that Bill Belichek’s a brilliant coach who has amazing chemistry with a brilliant quarterback, and that chemistry uplifts the whole roster year after year?

We all know the league isn’t entirely made up of whining wife beaters, but why not let Williams show the world that a real man honors his mom and tries to save the lives of others? A little pink could go a long way.

 

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.