By: Noah Gross
October is now over, so we can all forget about breast cancer right? That seems to be how the NFL thinks. Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, who lost his mother Sandra to breast cancer in May of 2014, was told that he could not wear pink attire outside of October. He was told that no exceptions could be made to the NFL uniform policy. He found a loophole by dying the tips of his hair pink, but the fact that Williams had to do so is ridiculous. Some of the uniform and equipment restrictions make sense. No Stick ‘Em for gloves, lineman only being able to wear numbers between 60-79 for sizing purposes, etc. But who is Williams hurting by wearing pink gloves? If this was an isolated incident, Roger Goodell and his cronies could be given a pass. But the key word there is “if”.
Earlier this year, Pittsburgh’s Cam Heyward was fined for wearing eye black to honor is late father. Craig “Ironhead” Heyward was a running back in the NFL for 11 years. He died of cancer in 2006 and his son found a unique and clever way to honor him. But then the NFL stepped in and fined him $5,787. However, this did not deter Heyward from wearing the eye black again a week later. All Heyward wanted to do was honor a great player, a great man, and a great father. Does that really sound like a fineable offense?
In October of 2013, then-Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall was fined $10,500 for wearing lime green cleats. Marshall, who has a history of struggling with anger management, was wearing cleats in honor of mental health awareness. Once again, a player tried doing something small for a good cause and was penalized for it. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four Americans suffer from some sort of mental illness in a year. Marshall tried bringing awareness to a cause effecting a huge part of the population and instead of being applauded, he was punished.
Laws and rules exist for a reason, both in life and football. There is a reason you cannot steal your neighbor’s car. There is a reason you cannot hit a player’s head with the crown of your helmet. Both are in place to protect people. But how can an article of clothing or eye black harm or hurt someone? I certainly do not know the answer to that question. Maybe one day Goodell and his lawyers will enlighten us to his reasoning.