NFL Players Association Announces Winners Of Social Justice T-Shirt Design Contest Presented By FIT




WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and its marketing and licensing arm, NFL Players Inc., are excited to announce the three prize winners for its Spring 2023 NFLPA Social Justice T-Shirt Student Design Contest Presented by Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Following careful consideration by a panel of judges, Siara Mencia (’24, Textile/Surface Design) has been selected as the first-place winner for her design highlighting the inequities in healthcare, particularly for people of color. Along with a $3,000 cash prize from the NFLPA, Mencia will have her original design featured on a T-shirt distributed to and worn by NFLPA player members during the 2023 summer training camp period and available for sale beginning in August.

In second place is Siamara Thomas (’24, Fashion Business Management), who will receive a $1,500 cash prize from the NFLPA, and in third place is Tammantha Merchant (’24, Graphic Design), earning a $1,000 cash prize from the football players union.

“It is an honor to lead this initiative in partnership with my alma mater, the Fashion Institute of Technology,” said Christina Fulton, who serves as the senior manager of partner services for NFL Players Inc. and co-leader of the NFLPA’s Social Justice Task Force. “Our panel of judges came away impressed with Siara’s design, which was impactful, creative, thoughtful and a conversation-starter. Siara’s storytelling behind the design demonstrates her dedication and passion toward this initiative.”

During February’s Black History Month, students currently enrolled at FIT had the opportunity to develop a unique and original T-shirt design surrounding the social justice issue of healthcare access and equity. The designs were then submitted and evaluated by a panel of judges representing the NFLPA, NFL Players Inc., and the union’s player membership.

Each contestant received a numerical score ranging from 1 to 5 from each judge based on the following criteria: creativity and originality of design concept; design appeal (aesthetics) of proposed finished garment; inspiration (storytelling of the design); relationship and connection to their social justice concern; and, effective presentation. The contestants with the three highest numerical sum total were selected as the prize winners.

Mencia will now have the opportunity to work with NFLPA Executive Committee member and Cincinnati Bengals defender Michael Thomas and his “No Excuses” clothing brand in turning her design into a T-shirt that will be distributed to players across all 32 NFL teams over the summer. The shirts will also be available for sale on the “No Excuses” website beginning in August.

“After seeing the recently launched Social Justice Center at FIT and learning more about the mission, it made sense to collectively join forces and amplify our voices to create positive change” Fulton said. “As a collective, there is always work to do. The NFLPA and our player members are committed to having the necessary conversations and doing the work in the fight against social injustice.”

By partnering together, the NFLPA and FIT hope to drive more awareness to the social justice issue of healthcare inequity that continues to plague the country. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2020, the maternal mortality rate among non-Hispanic Black women was 2.9 times that of non-Hispanic White women. Additionally, people of color are more likely to suffer from cancer, diabetes and heart disease, which demonstrates just how critical health equity is to preserving the lives in those communities.

“Health equity and removing health disparities begins with awareness, which in turn is fostered by education and solved with action,” said Dr. Sidney Hinds, who serves as the NFLPA’s Chief Health Equity Officer. “I am proud of the work being done by FIT and the NFLPA to build a bond that will promote social justice, and to shed light on implicit biases that hamper achieving health equity.”


About the NFL Players Association:

The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through the 2030 NFL season. Learn more at

About FIT

A part of the State University of New York (SUNY), FIT has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology throughout its history. Providing almost 9,000 students with an uncommon blend of hands-on, practical experience, theory, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, the college offers a wide range of affordable programs that foster innovation and collaboration. Its distinctive curriculum is geared to today’s rapidly growing creative economy, including fields such as computer animation, toy design, production management, film and media, and cosmetics and fragrance marketing. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers nearly 50 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the new creative economy. Among notable alumni in fashion are Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Norma Kamali, Reem Acra, Brian Atwood, Stephen Burrows, Dennis Basso, Daniel Roseberry, Francisco Costa, Nanette Lepore, Bibhu Mohapatra, Ralph Rucci, John Bartlett, Peter Do, and Michelle Smith. Other prominent graduates include Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals; international restaurant designer Tony Chi; and Nina Garcia, editor-in-chief of ELLE.