Multiple New York and New Jersey police associations have Avery Williamson’s back.
The groups have offered to pay a fine levied by the NFL against Williamson if the Titans’ starting linebacker goes through with his original plan to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, by wearing custom patriotic cleats during the team’s season opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Williamson’s plan changed when a league representative called to inform him about a looming fine for violating uniform code.
“I don’t want to draw negative attention, so I’m just going to focus on playing the game,” Williamson told The Tennessean on Friday. “Once I heard from them, I didn’t even try to argue anything. I just left it alone. I didn’t want to press the issue.”
Bobby Egbert, the public information officer for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, reached out to The Tennessean early Saturday morning. His email read, in part:
“The PAPD is the police department that has always patrolled the World Trade Center complex. On September 11, 2001, the PAPD lost 37 police officers at the World Trade Center, the largest, single loss ever suffered by a police department in the history of American law enforcement.
“We read, with understandable interest, your piece on Avery Williamson and the NFL's stance on Avery honoring the September 11th victims. We, along with the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, are offering to pay any reasonable fine levied by the NFL if Avery chooses to wear his 9/11 cleats.”
Egbert asked that this offer be brought to Williamson’s attention. Union leaders from both organizations reiterated this promise in comments to the New York Post.
Later Saturday, two additional law enforcement associations joined in the pledge, the New Jersey State Troopers Non-Commissioned Officers Association and the State Troopers Fraternal Association of the New Jersey State Police.
Williamson’s star-spangled blue cleats with red- and white-striped Nike swooshes were airbrushed by True Blue Customs in Lexington, Ky. They feature the words “Never Forget” and “9/11” on the back of the shoes, with the "11" representing the Twin Towers. The NFL mandates all teammates wear the same color scheme on their shoes.
“I’m going to try to get a couple of veterans to come to a game,” Williamson said. “I feel like just reaching out to people, helping them, somebody that’s served our country, I feel like that’s a great honor, so I wanted to do something nice for them. I feel like it’s a great cause.”