The National Football League (NFL) has been one of the most recognizable advocates for breast cancer awareness, which is why they have come under fire for not allowing a player to continue to wear the color pink after the month of October.
In 2014, Pittsburgh Steeler's running back DeAngelo Williams lost his mother to breast cancer, which drove him to contact the NFL with hopes of receiving permission to continue to wear pink on his uniform after the month of October.
The NFL declined his request stating pink would only be allowed during the month of October. The NFL has strict rules with regards to acceptable equipment and apparel and issues heavy fines for those who violate the rules.
“I understand that the NFL has a dress code,” said Brittnee McCall (junior, Communications) “but I honestly don't have a problem with him wanting to show support for breast cancer especially since it's so close to home for him.”
Williams, who’s long hair is visible outside of his helmet, has dyed strands of his braids pink having said that he has yet to find a rule prohibiting hair coloring.
“Those who are diagnosed with this terrible illness are not the only ones going through a traumatic experience, for there are family members and friends who also suffer,” said Cassandra Maria Ramirez (junior, Communications). “Dying strands of pink in his hair is admirable because it is a demonstration of his genuine support towards breast cancer awareness.”
Williams has helped to pay for over 53 mammograms and is helping raise funds for many more by selling t-shirts and other items of clothing online. On Oct. 18 he tweeted, “100% of the proceeds go to my foundation (women affected by breast cancer). Get yours here:”
Williams wrote an article for Sports Illustrated titled “Wear Pink For My Mom, Who Lived To Love” where he detailed his relationship with his mother and how she was hesitant to tell him that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "My mom didn’t tell me she had breast cancer before she got a double mastectomy." wrote Williams, "That was kept a secret, from me at least, because she didn’t want me worrying about her and getting distracted because, well, I’m a mama’s boy."
The article makes it undoubtedly clear on why he continues to have so much determination in the fight against cancer. From the moment she told him she had cancer, to the last memorable conversations he had with her. “My job here is done." she told Williams, "I’m going home. You gonna cry because I’m going home? This is supposed to be a celebration.”
After his mothers passing, Williams vowed to keep fighting against breast cancer the way his mother would have wanted him to.
“A lady came up to me and said she was going to get examined just because she saw me wearing pink cleats during a game. I walked away thinking, wow, pink is really so much more than just a color. It’s a lifesaver. It’s awareness,” Williams said. “If we reach one, we reach millions. If we reach millions, we’re doing our job and getting closer to finding a cure.”