EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Dante Cano had a big idea, so he wrote a letter and sent it to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
With the NFL using pink on hats, cleats and uniforms during the month of October for breast cancer awareness, thought the 11-year-old fan from Marlboro, N.J., why not use the color on the normally yellow penalty flags?
Goodell read the suggestion and jumped on the idea. The game Sunday between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets featured pink penalty flags at MetLife Stadium — all because of the fifth-grader’s note.
“I really felt sort of foolish because I wish I had thought of it,” Goodell said about an hour before kickoff. “Dante thought of it and when I saw that note, I thought it was a great idea. I talked to our people about it and we got it done pretty quickly.”
Cano presented Goodell and the game officials with the pink penalty flags on the field, and took pictures with him, his family and former Jets star Joe Klecko.
Cano got the idea while watching the Browns-Giants game on Oct. 7.
“They were using a lot of pink, so I thought, ‘Why not make the penalty flags pink? They use them a lot, so make them pink,’” Cano said. “I thought since it was a good idea, I should send it to him.”
Goodell signed a football to Cano: “You are very special!” and also signed one of the pink penalty flags. Cano said he felt a bit famous with all the attention before the game.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Cano said when asked if he was surprised to hear back from the commissioner. “This is very cool.
The first time the pink flag flew was less than 2 minutes into the game, an offside call on the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson. Another one flew moments later when New York’s Antonio Cromartie was called for unnecessary roughness for a shove out of bounds on Miami’s Reggie Bush.
Goodell said the league will consider using pink penalty flags next season during the NFL’s month of breast cancer awareness. He added that he frequently gets suggestions from fans but this is probably “the biggest one we did.”
“Our fans care about the game and this is just a great example of it,” Goodell said. “Dante felt this was a great thing and took the initiative to tell me about it, and it’s a great lesson for everybody. We need to listen to all of our fans and each other. Something great could come of it, and he did it.”