Volume 97 Issue 3 Sports

NFL uniform policy controversy

by Zach Seyko

Over the course of the 2015 season, the NFL has been handing out a decent amount of fines. The league is not disciplining heinous acts like domestic violence or other obscene actions. As a matter of fact, the NFL has notably fined players for breaking their uniform policies.

Instead, the NFL has not been shy about handing out fines to players who break their strict and glorious uniform policies.

So far, only Steelers players have been fined, but the punishments do not fit the so-called crime. William Gay, Cameron Heyward and De’Angelo Williams have been fined between $5,000 and $10,000 for showing support for cancer and domestic abuse causes through articles of clothing.

Heyward was the first to be penalized when he wrote “Iron Head” to show support and care for his dad, whom he had lost to a struggle with cancer. Gay followed in Heyward’s example by wearing purple cleats to honor his mother who was domestically abused during her life. As a result, the league also fined him. Williams is an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness as he lost his mother to the disease awhile back. Williams was fined after the Steelers game against the Kansas City Chiefs for writing on his eye black “find a cure.” The Steelers and football fans were appalled because over the previous five years, Williams was allowed to write this message on his uniform.

Williams came out to the media and questioned the consistency of the NFL and their rules in a recent interview. The running back expressed that he wants consistency and cannot understand why players were allowed to wear certain items on their uniforms in previous seasons, and not this season.

Rumors of bias and corruption surround the decisions being made by the NFL.

The past fines that have occurred were all charged to Pittsburgh players. They were not monumental fines and the players did not seem to care as much, but people could not understand the motive behind the league’s decisions. Some have said that the NFL penalized them in the interest of profits. Because the NFL cannot market purple cleats for domestic abuse or the phrases “Iron Head” and “Find a Cure”, the NFL will not allow those players to wear such apparel. What makes the argument interesting is that Goodell and the league denied Williams’s request to wear pink colored items outside of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The NFL does have a very clear policy stating that players cannot write personal messages on their gear during game days, even if the message supports a worthy cause. Some analysts pointed out that the NFL does not want players to take advantage of the personal messages and have derogatory or vulgar phrases on their uniforms. Of course, it is not assumed that any player would do that, but the league has to be cautious in certain cases.

Overall, the league should make an exception for the Steelers players and any future cases that support movements other than breast cancer awareness. Fines and statements that the NFL has released in the past month of October have made their integrity questionable more than ever. The NFL is punishing players for good gestures, and it is consequently sending the wrong message to spectators everywhere.

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