Moran: Unification for NFL fines needed


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Ben Moran

In the NFL, rules are made to protect athletes. When these rules are broken, they can turn into penalties and fines. While having rules and regulations is part of the structure of a sport, the fines for breaking these rules have gotten out of hand.

The NFL releases a list of fines at the start of every season, and this year’s list includes more than 20 fines. The most expensive fine is $28,940 for fighting or physical contact with an official. Certain activities off the field or violating a league policy can also result in a fine.

DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers running back, was fined $5,787 for violating uniform policy because of the customized eye black he wore, which read, “We will find a cure,” and included a pink breast cancer ribbon. Williams’ mother died of breast cancer in 2014, so he wore the customized eye black to raise awareness, according to NBC Sports.

Likewise, William Gay, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback, was also fined $5,787 last year for wearing purple cleats for Domestic Violence Awareness. Gay’s mother was murdered by her husband when Gay was only 7 years old.

Another Steelers player, defensive end Cameron Heyward, was fined for the same violation in October. Heyward wore custom eye blacks that read, “Iron Head,” in honor of his late father who was a running back in the NFL and died of bone cancer at age 39.

I find this ironic because Devon Still, former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle, reported that he was not fined last year for wearing custom eye black that read, “Leah Strong,” NBC News reported. Still’s daughter, Leah, publicly battled cancer last year, and her fight captivated the nation.

So why did Gay, Williams and Heyward get fined for wearing their support, but Still didn’t?

I’m not saying Still should be fined, because he shouldn’t, but the NFL should unify this rule and make some exceptions for certain causes like these. NFL players have a huge amount of publicity and power, which is why the NFL tries to control which brands and causes get publicity.

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, was fined $10,000 for wearing Beats during an interview, ESPN reported. The next week, he wore the exact same pair of headphones, but covered the logo with masking tape and didn’t receive a fine.

In the same sense, Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks running back, wasn’t fined the week leading up to the Super Bowl even though he wore a hat that bore his own “Beast Mode” logo. During his Super Bowl interview, he said, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” 29 times. Lynch was fined $75,000 for not speaking after the Seahawks’ win in the NFC Championship game, reported.

So why are there so many contradictions when it comes to fines? According to Spotrac, the largest sports team and player contract resource on the Internet, the NFL has given fines to more than 100 players in 2015, totaling more than $16 million.  

I believe there should be fines in the NFL. I’m not arguing to remove them. According to, all money made from fines go to programs to help fund former NFL players, which is positive. I’m instead arguing for the unification of what constitutes a fine. If one player violates a rule, then every player who violates that rule should be fined.