Another week, another fine for a Pittsburgh Steelers player that dares to support a cause through his uniform accoutrements.
Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward was twice fined for honoring his late father (who died of cancer) by writing "IRON HEAD" on his eye black. And now cornerback William Gay, whose mother was killed in an act of domestic violence, has been fined for wearing purple cleats to support domestic violence awareness.
Here, via NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala, are some more details about Pittsburgh's fines, which also include DeAngelo Williams being fined for writing "We will find a cure" (for breast cancer, which the NFL is "supporting" awareness of this month by having players and coaches wear pink) on his eye black:
"We will find a cure" and the breast cancer ribbon were printed on DeAngelo Williams' eyeblack this month. The NFL just fined him $5757— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
DeAngelo Williams, one of the NFL's best advocates in raising funds for breast cancer research, has worn this eyeblack all October— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
Again:This is the month to raise awareness for breast cancer. @DeAngeloRB did so w/ eyeblack stamped "We will find a cure." And he was fined— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
William Gay's mother killed in act of domestic violence. Last two Octobers, worn purple cleats to bring attention to DV. Today, fined $5787.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
William Gay very frankly told me: "I broke the rule." Said he hopes the NFL will send his entire fine to a domestic violence cause.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
William Gay was in NFL's PSA abt domestic violence on Sunday's nat'l broadcasts. Making a more personal statement abt DV was the no-no— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
And so this is why William Gay asking the NFL to allow players one weekend to relax uni code, allow them to champion a cause of their choice— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
Williams, whose mother died of breast cancer last year, previously asked the NFL if he could wear pink all year long and had his request denied. He instead dyed portions of his dreadlocked hair pink, as he did last year while playing for the Panthers. He was then fined for finding an additional way to support breast cancer awareness during breast cancer awareness month.
Gay supported domestic violence awareness with his cleats in order to honor his mother and others like her, and he got fined, too. You may have heard about the NFL having a hard time dealing with domestic violence issues of late. It's been in the news a bit. Meanwhile, Greg Hardy is out there on the field for the Cowboys every Sunday after a mere four-game suspension for his "alleged" domestic violence incident, shoving coaches and ranting at teammates at his leisure.
The NFL is willing to support worthy causes with things like this breast cancer awareness month, but only to a certain point. If players want to do it on their own, it's somehow deemed unacceptable. Seriously, Williams can wear pink to support breast cancer awareness, but he can't write a message about it on his eye black? That makes sense? Of course not. It's some hypocritical nonsense.
The Cauldron's Julie DiCaro put some numbers to the disconnect, specifically targeting the ongoing breast cancer awareness month. "But think of it this way: There are 32 teams in the NFL. If you divide the NFL’s total contribution by the number of teams, you end up with a donation of roughly $31,000 per franchise," DiCaro wrote. "To put that in perspective, the NFL fined Marshawn Lynch $100,000 in 2014 for refusing to speak to the media after games. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was fined more than $17,000 for a single play (more than half of the Packers’ 'share' of the NFL’s ACS donation)."
That $31,000 total, by the way, is also pretty close to what Williams, Heyward, and Gay alone have been fined for their decisions to support awareness over the last few weeks. Here's hoping that money is donated to the causes the players intended to support, and that the NFL gives serious consideration to Gay's proposal to allow players a relaxed uniform code for a week (which seems like the absolute least they could do) in order to support a cause of their choice.