The Riggs Blog

What Color Will You Wear in October?

By Nadine Desautels

You may not have known that Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Week coincide. Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall knew he was violating the NFL dress code on October 10, during Mental Health Awareness Week, when he chose to wear green cleats instead of the pink cleats that the association set as a policy for all players to wear throughout October to raise awareness for breast cancer. 

Marshall has gone public with his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Not only did he choose to incur the fine, but he also chose to match the fine and donate to a mental health charity in order to raise awareness for a mental illness characterized by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. According the National Institute of Mental Health, people with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal behavior, and impulsive or reckless behavior. 

It’s commendable that the National Football League raises awareness for breast cancer by displaying pink across stadiums in the United States this month. However, awareness for a disease that is often stigmatized and not pushed into the public eye unless tragedy occurs with suicides and violence is also an admirable endeavor - especially for someone who, before diagnosed had a history of domestic violence, drunk driving and more, now openly states that he is living a healthy life and has gained the tools to manage his emotions.

With recent tragedies like the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide, the suicide of Junior Seau, and the latest NFL suicide happening in September with the death of Paul Oliver – one would think that the NFL would accommodate such a statement by Marshall. The tragedies that surround these public figures within the sports arena provide an opportunity to broaden the conversation around mental health issues to a large platform of fans and media.

Under the letter from the NFL showing the fine incurred, Marshall tweeted, “Football is my platform not my purpose. This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & and the awareness raised.” Thank you Brandon Marshall.

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