Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams and cornerback William Gay were reportedly fined more than $5,700 each by the NFL for apparent violations of the uniform guidelines during Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reported that Williams has been showcasing "Find the Cure" on his eye black for five years, and this is the first time he's received punishment—a $5,787 fine to be exact—from the league for it.
DeAngelo Williams reportedly was fined for wearing eye black for breast cancer awareness. https://t.co/ZQfZBf9RUx https://t.co/AiYK8Rn1GH2015-10-28 17:53:46
Williams previously tried to honor his mother, who died from breast cancer in 2014, by attempting to wear pink uniform accessories, but was told by the league it would not make an exception. Instead, Williams dyed his hair pink.
Similarly, Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reported Gay has worn purple cleats during the last two Octobers to honor his mother, who was killed in an act of domestic violence, and raise awareness. This marks the first time he's been fined, as well.
The incidents follow a similar one teammate Cam Heyward dealt with in recent weeks after writing "Ironhead" on his eye black to honor his father, who died of cancer.
Heyward posted a message on social media last week stating he reached an agreement to pay tribute to his father in other ways, rather than writing on the strips below his eyes.
Fowler noted the league "significantly reduced" previously levied fines of more than $17,000 for the violations in exchange for the defensive end's cooperation. Then, on Sunday, the NFL reportedly made eye black with the words "Tackle Cancer" available to everybody, and Heyward wore it.
Rather than use the NFL's eye black, Williams opted for the message he's used in prior games, and now, he and Gay are the latest Steelers to get fined.
While the league strictly enforces its uniform guidelines, it's hard to imagine any harm being done by a message supporting cancer research or domestic-violence awareness. The situation is even more befuddling if the players have been doing it for years, as reported.
That said, it's a rule, and the NFL has shown it's going to hand out fines in these situations, regardless of the backstory. Williams and Gay are now finding that out the hard way. It's unclear whether they plan to challenge the punishment.