While the Las Vegas Raiders memorialized late Hall of Fame head coach John Madden with a helmet decal during Sunday’s win at the Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver DeSean Jackson said the NFL told him he couldn’t play in cleats that also honored Madden.
“NFL hated on me and said if I didn’t take cleats off they was gonna remove me from the game,” Jackson said in an Instagram story. “I had these made for the legendary John Madden.”
Madden, who passed away last week at the age of 85, went 103-32-7 in 10 seasons as the Raiders’ head coach from 1969-78. He led the franchise to the playoffs eight times, including a win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
The cleats, meanwhile featured Madden’s name and date of birth and death on the left outsole, a Raiders logo on the left insole, “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer” on the right insole and a photo of Madden with his signature on the right outsole.
Jackson wore them during pregame warmups, then caught one pass for five yards in Las Vegas’ win, which allows the Raiders to control their own destiny in the race for the playoffs.
The NFL does not allow players to wear messages on their cleats outside of the league’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign. It feels like an exception could have been made in this circumstance, though, especially given the league-wide moment of silence held for Madden before every game on Sunday.
“This is standard procedure,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “Players can wear specially designed cleats during pregame but wear their regular cleats during the game.
“There were tributes to the great John Madden throughout all broadcasts and a moment of silence before every game in stadium. All Raiders players also wore special decals on their helmets as another way to salute coach.”
Photos courtesy of @Raiders on Twitter.