TORONTO - The CFL is giving players the green light to think pink.
In the inaugural set of CFL Pink Games this weekend, the league has approved pink-coloured uniform accessories to promote awareness in the fight against women’s cancers.
While other leagues have allowed their players to alter their game gear for the greater good, the CFL has been slow to put on its rose-coloured glasses.
In past years, the CFL has fined players for wearing non-licensed alterations due to strict regulations involving a deal with merchandiser Reebok.
“I have pink gloves, but that’s a totally different company. I know that Reebok had the stuff, but for some reason or not they chose not to bring it up here,” said Eskimos running back Calvin McCarty. “I’m glad they’re starting to recognize that stuff and embrace it. It’s definintely good for the game.
“I’m saying next year we go all-pink jerseys.”
That might be stretching it, but the movement has come a long way since McCarty’s second year in the CFL, when he had to settle for showing his pink colours in practice.
“I wore them in practice because I couldn’t wear them in the game,” he said. “Just kind of trying to support it in an indirect way, where I wouldn’t get in trouble or fined for it.
“I’ve had some family members touched by cancer. Not breast cancer, but still. It’s just kind of my way of being behind it.”
But fines weren’t enough to deter one player from backing the cause.
Toronto Argonauts defensive lineman Kevin Huntley will play against McCarty’s Eskimos on Friday, but the two are united in the fight against cancer.
“Last year, they told me I couldn’t wear pink so I wore all black,” said the six-foot-eight, 293-pounder out of Kansas State. “I wore all black for my grandmother since they said I couldn’t wear pink.”
Huntley’s grandma, Bertha, was living in Washington, D.C., when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 — the same season Huntley had been playing for his hometown Washington Redskins of the NFL.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers had just released me because I tore my meniscus and failed the physical, so I sat out football that whole year,” Huntley said. “Even if I was able to play football, I don’t think I would be able to do it knowing what my grandmother was going through.”
So he helped take care of her and, today, is fortunate enough to have an 87-year-old cancer survivor as a grandmother.
The CFL still ended up fining him for his black attire last year.
And Huntley is fine with that.
“It’s personal for me,” he said. “And I stand up for that.
“That’s what I had to do.”