For many years, the NFL was derisively known as the “No Fun League.” Excessive touchdowns celebrations were penalized, and countless players received fines for the smallest dress code violations. While the league has relaxed their rules a little bit, they can still crack the whip. Cleveland Browns wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry experienced that first hand on Sunday.
During halftime, NFL officials told the two players that they had to change their cleats before retaking the field. But what was the wardrobe malfunction?
The Cleveland Browns’ uniform change
On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns visited Denver for a date with the Broncos. While the game didn’t appear to be a classic match-up on paper, things were even uglier in person.
Denver, as the home team, wore their orange jerseys with blue helmets and white pants. The Browns were expected to wear their road uniform, featuring a white jersey, white pants, and an orange helmet, but that wasn’t the case. During the week, the team asked—and received permission—to switch to their all-brown Color Rush uniforms.
Not only did the two teams look similar on the field, but the late switch caused a problem for Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
Beckham and Landry’s cleat conflict
On Sunday, Odell Beckham, Jr. took the field in Joker-inspired cleats; his fellow receiver Jarvis Landry donned a pair of gold and orange Nikes. Neither pair of shoes, however, lasted longer than a half.
During halftime, an NFL official informed the receivers that their cleats violated league rules. If they wanted to retake the field, they would have to change. Both players obviously did, but they were confused by the problem.
“I don’t really understand,” Landry explained after the game. “When we went up to the Nike headquarters to start game-planning for throughout the season, and our uniforms and things like that, these things get cleared by the league before Nike can start processing the shoe. So Nike processed the shoe and thinking, I guess, they got the green light from the NFL, so I didn’t see it as being a problem or a distraction to anybody. I’m just trying to play football.”
Beckham added that his cleats were made with the Browns’ white uniforms in mind; when the team called a last-minute audible, the receiver was stuck. “Obviously, you guys know I have a deal with Nike,” he said. “The offseason, before the season even starts in June and July, we sit down, we met about the cleats, all right this is it. Bam. This is the jersey you’re going to wear, cool. They literally switched the jersey. The cleats that I had was not for that jersey, we were supposed to wear white. The cleats were white.”
What is the NFL’s rule about cleat colors?
While the NFL has relaxed their rules about cleats, there are still some guidelines that players need to meet.
According to the NFL rulebook, players may wear cleats that “are black, white or any constitutional team color, or any combination of black, white and a constitutional team color.” While that seems to clarify Landry’s shoes—gold is nowhere to be found in Cleveland’s uniform—things are a bit trickier with Odell Beckham. His cleats were mainly white, but the league must have felt the clown face was a large enough element to count as an additional “color’ on the shoe.
No one, at least no one outside of the league office, really cares that two wide receivers were wearing shoes that clashed with their team uniforms. Unfortunately, the NFL loves to miss the forest through the trees.