Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings faced off with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in an NFC North rivalry game. Star wide receiver Adam Thielen headed out onto the field during pregame warmups while wearing cleats to honor a legendary TV host. His footwear prominently featured a tribute to Alex Trebek, who passed away on Nov. 8.
Photos surfaced on Twitter that showed Thielen's cleats and the different messages. One side featured a "Final Jeopardy!" screen with the message "We Will Miss You, Alex." The score was -$19,000. Another side had an artistic rendering of Trebek's face, as well as a halo above his head. Finally, the word "Trebek" sat underneath the Adidas logo.
Adam Thielen will be wearing these cleats on MNF in honor of the late Jeopardy host Alex Trebek 🙏November 16, 2020
"And the league better not fine him for this..." one fan commented after seeing the pregame cleats. Several others proclaimed that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was already gearing up to fine the wide receiver "at least $50,000" for non-approved footwear.
According to the NFL's equipment policies, all players on each team must wear cleats with black, white and an approved team color for each game. "Each player may select among shoe styles previously approved by the League office. All players on the same team must wear shoes with the same dominant color. Approved shoe styles will contain one team color which must be the same for all players on a given team," the rules state.
The only time that players can wear unique footwear is Week 14 when the NFL takes part in the My Cause, My Cleats campaign. This week is when players show support for various charitable organizations with the designs. Wearing non-compliant footwear any other week leads to fines, as well as possible removal from the game if the player refuses to change into approved footwear.
Thielen did ultimately change into approved cleats in time for kickoff and then played a major role in the game. He had fewer than 100 yards but scored two touchdowns to help the Vikings win 19-13. He also sparked praise from critics and fans alike for his choice of footwear.
The Vikings started the season poorly falling to 1-5. The offense and defense both struggled during games against the Seahawks and Packers. Since that start, the Vikings have since rattled off three consecutive wins and pulled into a tie with the Lions. Reaching the playoffs is unlikely barring a surprising winning streak, but the Vikings are still technically in contention.