October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and millions of organizations are coming together to promote the prevention of the cancer that will find its way to one in eight women. They’ve received support from major organizations, including the NFL, but a recent report shows that their support is fleeting. After October, their players won’t be allowed to grace the field with pink bandanas, socks, and armbands until the following October.
According to a feature article from New York Mag, one player wants to support breast cancer awareness all year long, but when he asked if it was allowed, his request was shot down.
DeAngelo Williams, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers has seen more cases of breast cancer in his 32 years than most people will in a lifetime. Four of his aunts suffered and passed from the disease, and then finally, his mother, Sandra Hill, was taken just last year by breast cancer.
Williams wanted to bring attention to the cause during more than just October by suiting up with his pink gloves, bandana, shoes, and other symbols even after the month ends. He was denied by Troy Vincent, the league’s vice-president, stating that his request went against the official NFL uniform regulations.
The NFL rules mandate that players be allowed to wear the pink memorabilia during the month of October, but after the 31st, it’s back to the standard uniform with no exceptions. In fact, the first offense would get Williams a fine of $5,787, according to the 31-page document outlining the policy.
This doesn’t look good for the NFL, already under fire for letting the abuse of women slide. This is just another strike on their record.
Williams explained to an ESPN reporter, “It’s not just about October for me; it’s not just a month, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about getting women to recognize to get tested.”
DeAngelo and his background was one of the main reasons the NFL decided to have players join the breast cancer awareness campaign in 2009 when they recognized the hardships his family members had gone through.
But that’s about as far as their support has gone for the running back. He admitted last year to USA Today that only two members of the Panthers organization, the team he played for at the time, acknowledged his mother’s passing. “I was upset with Carolina, because the last five or six years during October, [my mom] was celebrated, but then when she was no longer here — let’s move on. [I was] very disappointed,” he told reporters.
Williams is very much aware of what science and extensive medical research have already found. The fact is that breast cancer awareness really does save lives. Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women, but it’s also the most preventable. By performing breast self-exams and receiving regular mammograms, women can catch the cancer early enough to prevent the onset and save lives.
He has been perhaps the most active supporter in breast cancer awareness in the NFL. During the month, he’s most recognizable for the pink dreads he has woven into his hair. He also throws on pink apparel and even paints his toenails pink.
DeAngelo is also the star of an NFL commercial devoted to reminding others about breast cancer awareness.
Above all, Williams just wants people to know that breast cancer awareness saves lives, and it’s integral to raising money and research for finding a cure. He shared on MMQB last year after his mother’s passing,
“Breast cancer, whether I like it or not, is part of my family’s story. That’s why I am so passionate about raising awareness, because I have seen firsthand how it can impact others. One time, 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. If we reach one, we reach millions. If we reach millions, we’re doing our job and getting closer to finding a cure.”
DeAngelo Williams is still fighting the NFL on their decision not to support breast cancer awareness after October ends, and you can be sure he won’t give up.
[Images via Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]