NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans had a bye week while players around the rest of the league wore cleats on a day carved out for players to make a statement for a cause.
Despite missing the “My Cause My Cleats” weekend, the Titans have not been granted permission to wear their individualized shoes beyond warm-ups Sunday, when they return to action against Denver at Nissan Stadium, several said.
At least two Titans, cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Delanie Walker, will wear their special cleats anyway.
McCourty and his twin brother, New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty, have a joint charity called Tackle Sickle Cell. Devin wore his shoes during the Patriots home win over the Rams.
“I believe you should be [allowed], so I’ll be wearing mine for the game,” Jason said.
“… There are a lot of things I guess they should or shouldn’t do. It’s just one of those things where it is what it is. I guess at some point there were going to be two teams at any given week that wouldn’t be playing, so you kind of get screwed in that sense. That just happened to be us.”
Walker’s cleats honor MADD and Delanie Walker Gives Back.
Others were bummed that the Titans were not officially granted permission like the rest of the league was in Week 13.
“We should be able to, us and Cleveland,” said Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, who would have had shoes designed to show his support for leukemia and lymphoma charities. “We’re not allowed; we can’t.”
The NFL did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Receiver Andrew Hawkins, the Cleveland Browns player rep, said that equipment manager Brad Melland had e-mailed the league to see if the Browns could wear the cleats this weekend. Hawkins was not sure if the league had answered.
The general feeling in the locker room was the Browns and Titans would simply be out of luck, something that did not sit well with every player.
“We didn’t schedule our bye week ourselves,” linebacker Chris Kirksey said. “I think they should let us do it.”
Hawkins said he hopes the league relents, but he added he would not be surprised if players wore some “My Cause” cleats regardless of the ruling.
“If they fine guys for wearing them, I think that’d be a black eye for the NFL,” Hawkins said. “Especially since it’s all about good causes and everything.”
Most players said they hadn’t had time to think about what shoes they would choose because they were under the impression the league would not reconsider.
Joe Thomas said if permitted, he would wear cleats representing Team Rubicon, a charitable organization founded by Jake Wood, his former teammate at Wisconsin. The charity uses veterans for rapid responses to disasters, and has helped in places like Haiti to help earthquake victims and Greece to help refugees.
When the Titans played Minnesota on Sept. 11 to open the season, linebacker Avery Williamson wore cleats honoring victims and responders on the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the United States.
Despite reports that he’d be fined, he ultimately was not.
ESPN’s Pat McManamon contributed to this report.