Posted October 07, 2013

NFL to scrap pink penalty flags after Week 5 confusion

Roger Goodell
(Tony Avelar/AP)

The NFL will continue to wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the pink flags will be scrapped. (Tony Avelar/AP)

After one week of confusion, the NFL has decided to scrap the idea of pink penalty flags — at least for the time being. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a release that while players and coaches will continue to wear pink through Week 7 as part of the league’s breast cancer awareness initiative, there was enough confusion about the appearance of the pink flags to justify reconsidering the idea.

Pink flags weren’t a league idea in the first place. When 11-year-old Dante Cano from Marlboro, N.J. wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year, that got the concept started. Cano wrote that ” I wanted to know if you could use my idea of pink penalty flags in October for breast cancer awareness,” and asked if Goodell could “please write back.”

Goodell did, and invited Cano and his family to the Oct. 28 game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, where the flags were first used.

“Dante had a great idea and I am looking forward to meeting with him on Sunday to put it into action,” Goodell said in a statement. “Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best. I applaud Dante for sending in his recommendation.”

The league will continue to use pink coins, equipment, goalpost padding and sideline hats. This is the fifth year in which the league recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

66 comments
nomorepink
nomorepink

It was cool at first but I am growing weary of all the pink/magenta even on the goal posts. It seems like big cancer research entities are pushing it on everyone. You do have to wonder how much of all this $ is taken as "salaries".

TerranceHill
TerranceHill

I don't understand the need to "raise breast cancer awareness" So what you wear a pink shirt. What have you DONE to cure or prevent breast cancer. Nothing. It just makes you think you're helping somehow to make people feel better without having to actually DO something. Everyone is AWARE of breast cancer already. If you actually want to DO something about it instead of being an armchair quarterback in the cancer game I'm all about that.

FifthInTheOrder
FifthInTheOrder

I watched 5 games and only Phil Simms seemed somewhat bothered by the pink flags, but coming from him, it's understandable.  Salomon Wilcotts and Kevin Harlan got confused once late in their game and laughed about it.

Other than that there was no reason to get confused or bothered by the use of pink in the games.  It's becoming too much ado about nothing or however the heck Shakespeare said it.

Phil Smith
Phil Smith

WOW, I completely forgot about breast cancer until I watched the NFL last week.  I could put up with the pink crap for one weekend, but since its the entire month year after year I'll just watch college ball instead.  Yeah, I know good cause, blah, blah, blah.  So run some NFL-sponsored ads.

Maybe I can find an 11-year old to ask for a new NFL commissioner.

j7apple
j7apple

From what I understand in the spirit of fairness, the league will be issuing Jacksonville white flags for use  anytime during the game this week at Denver........lol

x72
x72

How about draw a small pink ribbon on the yellow flag? Kids would ask hey pops what is that pink on the flag and then you could go into detail, would be more meaningful.

x72
x72

Good thought, bad execution.

isthistaken?
isthistaken?

I like how Doug Farrar clears any confusion as to where the blame should be properly placed.  It's not the NFL's fault, but an 11 year old!  He made the NFL do it!

3M_TA3
3M_TA3

I lost my mom to breast cancer two years ago. She thought a month's-worth of pink was diluting the message, even when she was in final stages watching games with me.

Dustin3
Dustin3

Glad that the NFL is trying raise money for a good cause, but don't be fooled. They have an ulterior motive. $$ of course. Marketing to women so they will buy more pink NFL gear. Of course some of that money from selling the pink gear goes to cancer research, but quite a bit of it doesn't (the NFL doesn't disclose the exact figures). Anyway, be nice if they cut back on the pink from just 1 month, to just 1 week.

closetjaysfan
closetjaysfan

I wish an 11 year old would write the commissioner and say that they would like to see a TD celebration.

Christopher31
Christopher31

I appreciate the NFL for supporting the "pink" movement to bring attention to breast cancer, but donning the bubble-gum pink for 4/5 weekends of the month is total overkill.


They need to have One specific weekend set aside to do the pink thing, and then leave it alone. Maybe keep the pink ribbon painted on the field, or leave the signage up, but it's gotten WAAAAAY out of hand.

kenc29
kenc29

When there's too much of one thing, in this case the color pink, the meaning is diluted. Let's not overdo it.

Cool
Cool

The confusion was caused by the pink towels the players were using.  It makes sense to me that they have the players stop using the pink towels and let the kids idea of the pink flag remain.  

IndependentsDay
IndependentsDay

I'm not surprised broadcasters were confused.  They still don't understand the difference between an end around and a reverse.  If the QB hands the ball directly to the WR, then it is an end around, when that WR hands it off to a WR going the other way, then its a reverse.    

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

Enough of the NFL trying to promote causes (no matter how admirable) by changing ANYTHING on the field. This is football. If they want to have public service messages, put them on television or the scoreboards at timeouts. LEAVE THE FRIGGIN GAME ALONE

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

So the players are stupid enough to not know the difference? Wow, and we only thought these hard core gansta types couldn't read

ChrisBird
ChrisBird

Thank goodness the NFL came to their senses.  I as confused all weekend when ever I saw anything pink on the ground, for this exact reason - was it a hand towel or a flag?  Make everything else the players wear, all the accessories, hell, color the goal posts pink, but the pink flags were a bit of a pain.

Jon8
Jon8

And this is why you don't take random suggestions from 11 year-olds, Commissioner!!

WesVaughn
WesVaughn

There is no reason for confusion. A flag is a flag, regardless of the color. 

JennBarry
JennBarry

Who the double hockey sticks is confused by the pink flags? C'on man, if you're going to do pink for the month, do it all the way!! Let's put the refs in black and pink striped shirts too.

ApolloOne
ApolloOne

You know what I love about these little quickie stories on SI? THE FRIGGIN' UNANSWERED QUESTIONS! Why are these pink flags causing confusion?

WilliamB.E.Dearth
WilliamB.E.Dearth

Do you know how many billions have been donated to cancer research? Enough with this scam.  There is no money in a cure. 

LarryDarrell
LarryDarrell

Yes...scrap the pink penalty flags.  Scrap it all. It's ridiculous.  The little pink ball weighting down the end of the flag sticking out of the ref's pants is grotesque.  Maybe next game there should be two little balls hanging out for testicular cancer awareness. 

Watchwolf
Watchwolf

I will support "Breast Cancer Research" when there is an equal focus on 'Prostrate Cancer Research." Why is one more important than the other? The mortality numbers are nearly identical. Sexism at its worst. Women want equality but only if it makes men feel guilty and puts it at their advantage.

2001mark
2001mark

Simply a great idea that didn't pan out.  A lot better than Commissioner Dad saying no to the child's idea in the first place

Whatever
Whatever

YEA!!! YEAY!!! YEA!!!!!!!

stujoe1966
stujoe1966

NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative = Sell Pink Merchandise To Female Fans Initiative. 

x72
x72

@closetjaysfan Or allow people to tackle again. It's turned into flag football.

dustyme
dustyme

@JimKirkwood1 is right.  So is TwyferdiousTroglobyte.  We are all "aware" of the cancer, but so much pink coloring on the field for so long is irritating to see.  I wonder what percentage of donations are used for the purpose intended and what percentage goes to salaries, etc.

TwyferdiousTroglodyte
TwyferdiousTroglodyte

@JimKirkwood1 I agree! This 'pink stuff' is going too far. There are dozens of different kinds of cancers people can get. Why single breast cancer (Or any other kind for that matter) out.
OK, I'm 'aware' of it already! This pink stuff has got to go.

Derek6
Derek6

@JimKirkwood1 did it bother you that much to see pink flags?  Are pink coins at the coin toss upsetting you that much?  Get a life.  

Christopher31
Christopher31

@WesVaughn 
Dang right, Wes! Why don't we just have green flags? Or white?


Obviously you didn't watch any games this weekend. I watched a couple, and it was very difficult to see the pink flags amongst all the other pink crap making its way around the field.

joe6647
joe6647

@WesVaughn The pink flags were the same colors as the hand towels that the players were wearing.  At times during some of the games, players were dropping their hand towels leading to confusion for the announcers as to whether a flag was actually thrown

JKT
JKT

@JennBarry Did you watch the games? Dropped pink towels caused at least half a dozen false flag alerts in the Giants/Eagles game alone. 

ybrent
ybrent

@ApolloOne Players are using pink towels this month.  They fall to the ground on almost every play.  Several commentators mistakenly assumed penalties, but then play would just continue.  It was pretty funny, actually.  I think it messed with Dierdorf hardcore, lol.

j7apple
j7apple

@ApolloOne  "there was enough confusion about the appearance of the pink flags to justify reconsidering the idea."  

I could only assume somewhere between a red challenge flag and yellow penalty flag that they didnt know what the heck what was being thrown.

In all honesty, they could have got away with it just being challenge flags for the month.

dustyme
dustyme

@LarryDarrell great idea, but I think if you have had testicular cancer you may have just the one ball left.

YasserMuzaffar
YasserMuzaffar

@LarryDarrell I'm gonna sent that suggestion to the commissioner, heck he'll probably invite me and my family to a free game :)

Dustin3
Dustin3

@Watchwolf The reason why is marketing. The NFL trying to expand it's market share among women. Colon cancer or prostrate cancer wouldn't do that for them. The pink month does this while at the same time it is good PR for the NFL. If the NFL wasn't making money off of this they wouldn't be doing this for the 5th straight year.

Derek6
Derek6

@Watchwolf Wow, someone is insecure.  Hate women much?  Maybe you should just donate to your shrink to look at the many issues you clearly have.

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife

What in the h e double hockey sticks is a Prostrate?  Are you bowing down to something?

FDowney
FDowney

@Watchwolf Well, it's not really mortality--it's incidence. Although the incidence level is also very close, both, but especially breast, get far more attention than cancers that are far less common but far more lethal. Trust me, I have a brother that died from one of them (esophageal, which is uncommon but also damn near incurable).

As for breast vs. prostate, let's face it--breasts are sexier :). And another contributing factor is that, while the overall incidence levels are close, breast cancer is FAR more common in people 25-50. Breast cancer strikes your peers--prostate cancer strikes your grandfather. Don't think that isn't important. (My mother and ex-wife both got breast cancer in their forties.) 

Another important detail is marketing. Not only did breast cancer get inventive marketing first--hey, sex sells. Madison Ave has been using boobs to sell stuff to us guys for 100 years, so they damn well knew they could sell "Save the Ta-ta's!" to us guys!

Skins'Fan
Skins'Fan

@stujoe1966Not wrong but you're forgetting the end, and most important part of the equation:

"NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative = Sell Pink Merchandise To Female Fans Initiative" = Give Money to Breast Cancer Research Initiative.

*BONUS* Get our girlfriends interested in football merchandise!

JennBarry
JennBarry

@JKT @JennBarry I watched 4 games this weekend, Giants v, Eagles wasn't on my radar. Didn't see anyone confused except Giants fans.

scBlais
scBlais

@FDowney @Watchwolf Maybe they should go with the middle ground and pick one that connects with both sexes, colorectal cancer.  They already even have a team wearing the colors.