Two Pittsburg Steelers players have been fined for wearing unauthorized decorations or colors to support personal causes, the NFL reported on Wednesday.
The NFL fined both DeAngelo Williams and William Gay for violating uniform rules for wearing the unauthorized advertisements, the first for breast cancer awareness and the latter for domestic violence awareness campaigns. Defensive end Cameron Heyward was also fined several times earlier this month for the same violation.
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams was handed a first-offense uniform violation fine of $5,787 for wearing “Find the Cure” in his eye black to raise awareness for breast cancer. In his defense, Williams told ESPN that he has worn the eye black for years.
The league also fined cornerback William Gay the same amount for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness for domestic violence.
Gay is interested in the cause because when he was seven years old his own mother was shot and killed by an abusive husband. Gay also appeared in a recent public service announcement on the issue.
Williams is well known for his activism in favor of raising awareness for breast cancer. The player has lost several family members to the disease, including his own mother.
Earlier this month Williams had requested permission from the league to wear his breast cancer awareness items for the entire year and not just for the NFL-approved breast cancer awareness month. But on October 14 his request was officially denied.
Still, Williams has been wearing the cancer message in his eye black for as long as five years without any fines.
Teammate Cameron Heyward was also fined this month for wearing a message in his eye black. The league hit Heyward twice for writing “IRON” and “HEAD” in his eye black. In 2009, Heyward’s father, former NFL running back Craig “Iron Head” Heyward, died of brain cancer at the young age of 39.
Heyward appealed his fines but while they weren’t reversed, the fines were reduced to $17,363 for the pair with the stipulation that the player find other ways to honor his father.
“It wasn’t the best way it could have been handled [by the NFL], but both sides wanted it to be resolved,” Heyward said after the appeal process. “There was more awareness toward cancer, so I can’t be selfish and say I’m unhappy with the outcome.”
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