The National Football League has made a heavy push to celebrate breast cancer awareness, designating an entire month of the season to recognize the disease. But even with that focus, the league has denied the request of one player who wanted to wear pink through the whole season in tribute to his mother, who died of the disease.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams lost his mother Sandra Hill to breast cancer. He also lost four aunts to the terrible illness. Because of the deep personal connection to the form of cancer, Williams has dyed his hair pink, panted his toenails pink, and written about his family’s struggle with the disease. The league has had no problem with any of these actions. But his latest request was not so well received.
With October being national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NFL has jumped to the effort with gusto by allowing sports apparel companies to make pink NFL-themed apparel and equipment to be used by players not to mention to be sold to the public. The league has also urged teams to institute special days and events to coincide with the month-long effort.
In fact, Williams is even the star of a breast cancer commercial for the league’s commemoration of the month.
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 11, 2015
But the NFL was not as interested in allowing Williams to wear pink all year in tribute to his mother.
As CBS Sports reported, Williams “said he went to the NFL earlier this season and asked if there was a way that he could wear pink throughout the season, not just in the month of October.” Williams went on to tell CBS that for him breast cancer isn’t just about October. “It’s not just a month, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about getting women to recognize to get tested,” he said.
Still, the NFL denied his request to don pink for the whole season in tribute to his familial loss. The denial didn’t sit well with the folks at Deadspin who decried the move as one of a cynical nature, a power play meant to show who is the boss and who controls the purse strings.
“The NFL cares about the causes you care about,” Samer Kalaf pointedly wrote, “so far as its caring works to promote its brand.”
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