Why did NFL stop wearing pink? Exploring possible reasons for the league's decision
For quite some time, Octobers in the NFL were filled with the color pink. That was due to the league's "October breast cancer awareness focus." These days, we see less pink on the Gridiron, and it begs the question, 'Why?'
In this piece, we will be taking a deep dive into what made pink so symbolic in the league. We will also touch upon the origins, why the league stopped donning pink, and the current state of affairs. So, without further ado, let's get to it!
Starting in 2009, the NFL dressed up its players, stadiums, and sidelines in pink every October to raise awareness for breast cancer in collaboration with the American Cancer Society. The tradition was rooted in sincerity, as breast cancer was one of the leading forms of cancer in women in the 2000s.
Over the years, the league's breast cancer campaign saw both praise and criticism. It received plaudits for the intentionality of the program and the millions that were raised that went to cancer awareness.
However, there was some backlash as well, as some people felt that the league's efforts were a mere publicity stunt to draw female fans, particularly amid the run of mishandled domestic violence cases.
Why did the NFL stop wearing pink?
The NFL stopped wearing pink as they transitioned from having just one month for awareness to giving every franchise a chance to raise awareness in their unique way.
According to Pro Football Talk, the league has quietly but dramatically shifted the traditional breast cancer awareness focus to a broader cancer awareness effort. This has resulted in the replacement of pink with a more comprehensive array of colors, as reflected in the league's "Crucial Catch” logo.
Thus, franchises these days have more creative control over how they choose to honor the people living with breast cancer and raise awareness for worthy causes. According to the league, players and staff are allowed to wear cleats, shoelaces, and wristbands that represent any cancer awareness that they support or that has impacted them.
While players don't wear as much pink as they used to, the essence of the initial introduction of the symbolic color remains.
The Current State of Affairs
The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry, and players, teams, and fans are part of the product. The donning of pink was for a reason back in the day, and the league made their statement. Now that they've achieved what they set out to, the NFL has made a genuine effort to broaden their horizons into an all-encompassing cause.
Of course, players and franchises still wear pink, just that it's a far cry from the days when pink was everywhere in October. Now, teams can don the color in their unique way, and this is arguably better for the cause moving forward. On a side note, the league never stopped wearing pink. Did you see Bryce Young's NFL Draft suit?