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William Gay wore purple shoes for domestic violence awareness, got fined

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots makes a catch against  William Gay #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

DeAngelo Williams wasn’t the only member of the Steelers to get fined by the league this week for sending a message via his uniform.

Cornerback William Gay has also been fined $5,787 for wearing purple shoes in an attempt to draw attention to domestic violence issues during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Gay’s mother was shot and killed by his stepfather when Gay was seven years old, which makes his personal relationship to the issue a particularly close one.

As we’ve seen numerous times over the years, the league’s rules about uniforms don’t offer any wiggle room for players to highlight causes of interest to them. The only approved alterations come when during league-wide efforts in October and November to recognize breast cancer awareness and the United States military.

Gay, who appears in an NFL public service announcement asking for “no more” domestic violence, told Aditi Kinkhabwala that he knows he “broke the rule” and that he hopes the league donates his fine to an organization devoted to domestic violence causes.

Gay also said he’s asked the league to relax uniform regulations for one weekend a year so players can champion a cause of their choice, something that seems unlikely given the league’s longstanding aversion to players expressing themselves via their uniforms.

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67 Responses to “William Gay wore purple shoes for domestic violence awareness, got fined”
  1. Kingmj4891 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:15 AM

    Uniforms standards being required by an employer is not a new concept here people. Gay should promote domestic violence on his own time not his employers they are not paying him for that they are paying him to play football and as part of that require him to wear the uniform set by the standards outlined by the employer. Want to get paid then follow the rules laid out by your employer.

  2. jchipwood says: Oct 28, 2015 11:19 AM

    I support the cause but the players know the rules and the rules don’t allow things like this. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

  3. blackandbluedivision says: Oct 28, 2015 11:20 AM

    look at the Steelers sending positive messages for a change… a far cry from the police scanner.

  4. themanfromtheblacklodge says: Oct 28, 2015 11:22 AM

    The league’s tone deaf approach to public relations knows no bounds.

  5. thundersnacker says: Oct 28, 2015 11:28 AM

    INTEGRITY!

  6. chuckshontaspads says: Oct 28, 2015 11:28 AM

    Greg Hardy is the new face of the NFL and Kim Jung Goodell is doubling down on Brady…..Your Hero Emperor Goodell.

  7. tomtravis76 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:33 AM

    Just so the internet would go into a frenzy and all of the radio hosts and tv talking heads would have their heads explode, wouldn’t it be hilarious if Tom Brady wore something that said ,”Fire Roger”.

  8. peytonwantsaflag says: Oct 28, 2015 11:34 AM

    Maybe the smart thing for the NFL to do (HA, I know right) would be to allow players to “pay” for the right to wear certain things for particular causes instead of calling it a fine.

    As for letting everyone choose whatever they want THAT’S a bad idea. The nfl is just like the general population, lot of people just looking for attention.

  9. ketch20too says: Oct 28, 2015 11:35 AM

    taken on an individual basis, it seems like more petty No Fun League draconian over reaction. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t take long for things to deteriorate into a mish mash of players wearing what they want in the name of their causes.

  10. rayslover727 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:36 AM

    On the one hand, I understand that the league is like any other company that has a uniform dress code. If they allow too much personal expression, some of these meatheads will go too far. They also don’t want political or other hot issues to become yet another distraction that they have to explain. Look at the hands up stuff.

    But at the same time, why does the league feel the need to be so heavy handed about every little thing that doesn’t matter (shoe colors, football air), while totally neglecting the big issues?(turf conditions, LA question)

  11. jjb0811 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:37 AM

    So there NFL can break its own rules, but not players. Classic ‘do as I say not as I do’.

  12. hakunamangata says: Oct 28, 2015 11:38 AM

    Just wait for a domestic violence awareness month William. Then you can wear all the purple you want and the NFL can sell your jersey to help m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶n̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶e̶y̶ promote it.

  13. rcali says: Oct 28, 2015 11:40 AM

    I don’t know why the NFL decided to become a billboard for causes as somebody with half a brain could see where this was going……actually I do understand the Hot Pink is a money maker for them. Either way I am open to one weekend a year where every player gets an opportunity to wear a patch to honor or support whatever is there cause….then we get back to football. This month long Hot Pink campaign is way overboard and now the NFL will continue to look like the bad guy as it denies or fines players. Nice work Goodell!

  14. bullnose22 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:40 AM

    Yeah Kingmj4891, choosing a time when he is on national television seems like a pretty poor choice. And he definitely can’t play football as well in a different color pair of cleats. Cleat color is directly correlated to on field performance. Everyone knows that.

  15. PokeSalad says: Oct 28, 2015 11:41 AM

    Is this really so evil? The very definition of “uniform” is uni =one form=shape or covering.

    How about any employee of a profession with a prescribed uniform can alter it any way they see fit?
    If my ancestor served/died in the Civil War, I can wear old Union Army accoutrements on my US Army ACUs?

    Joining a uniformed profession means agreeing to wear that uniform. Are people so self-centered and dense these days that they can’t figure that out?

  16. lenthevikesfan says: Oct 28, 2015 11:42 AM

    As soon as they find a way to make money off it the NFL will relent.

  17. dietrich43 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:43 AM

    Gay and Williams are trying to draw additional attention to issues that the NFL is…trying to make money from and make themselves look good. If they were trying to support awareness for penguin-toed people, I would feel differently. I understand why the NFL is taking this stance, but they would do a lot better in the public’s eyes by electing to suspend these specific fines while they re-evaluate their uniform requirements. If nothing else, after the season, they could elect to hold the same requirements and just drop the fines to sweep it under the rug.

  18. lyfordjr says: Oct 28, 2015 11:48 AM

    So, how many people watched the Steelers game on Sunday and said, “wow – William Gay is wearing purple shoes. I shouldn’t hit my girlfriend…”

    That is, who watched the game, and a) noticed he was wearing purple shoes AND b) knew why he was wearing purple shoes? Is that number in double-digits? I’m skeptical. I think that a is a small number and b is a ridiculously small percentage of a.

    So if he really wants to raise awareness of domestic violence, the league fine and accompanying stories are FAR more effective than just wearing purple shoes…

  19. clashpoint says: Oct 28, 2015 11:49 AM

    Don’t be tools.
    It’s eye black, are you kidding me, this is massively stupid. The NFL values the all -important integrity of eye black over the fight against cancer, promoting family values – and now most ironically, in recent times – social awareness about domestic violence.

    Did anyone else read about how NFL charities only send like 8% of of it’s money to the actual causes? Too many people with their greedy hands in the collection pot. The NFL cares about one thing and one thing only and will lie, cheat or steal to get as much of it as possible.

    So no wonder they are cracking down. Fine money goes to NFL charities, not the player’s causes, where everyone but those who need it are positioned to get their cut.

    Sometimes the players care about the fans, as shown by the way Steelers players promote these causes. The NFL only cares about the fans money, and they don’t even play the games – just profit off them.

  20. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:49 AM

    So let’s say the NFL, in the end, were to win its appeal of Berman’s ruling…..would that mean that Goodell could decide any discipline he wants for these kinds of “offenses”?

  21. mogogo1 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:49 AM

    Jerry Jones would have cut William Gay over this seeing it as an attack on their great team leader and wonderful human being Greg Hardy.

  22. justchuckn says: Oct 28, 2015 11:50 AM

    The NFL should create an application system for things like this. I honestly see the NFL side of this of not wanting players to send a personal message with their uniform especially if it ends up being gang related ect. so they “Gotta treat everyone the same” but this application system would be for stuff like this it means good press for the NFL if it gets highlighted in the broadcast and keeps players happy. Plus the NFL could use some good press from the domestic violence movement…….

  23. osiris33-and-beastmode5150-are-delusional-trolls says: Oct 28, 2015 11:51 AM

    Any reason to bag on unrelated NFL issues. Seems American to me.

  24. h0c2000 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:54 AM

    Hopefully the fine goes to the Roger Goodell Foundation for the Denial of Domestic Violence.

  25. rws591 says: Oct 28, 2015 11:54 AM

    Uniforms standards being required by an employer is not a new concept here people. Gay should promote domestic violence on his own time not his employers they are not paying him for that they are paying him to play football and as part of that require him to wear the uniform set by the standards outlined by the employer. Want to get paid then follow the rules laid out by your employer.

    Trying to compare NFL players to a standard employer/employee relationship is just daft and you know that. It’s one that’s completely unique to the sports world.

  26. bengalguy says: Oct 28, 2015 11:57 AM

    Must have borrowed them from Ben.
    ……oh wait.

  27. bkostela says: Oct 28, 2015 11:57 AM

    While I agree that players must conform to uniform code or be subject to fine, can we please do away with bca MONTH? Make October “awareness month”, with one week each devoted to breast cancer, domestic violence, prostate cancer, getting your pets spayed/neutered, etc.

    Oh, and I’m completely fine with wearing camo all November to support our troops, but feel like our EMT, firefighters and police need some love too.

  28. giantsfanlewis says: Oct 28, 2015 12:03 PM

    Do it during the pro bowl. It won’t get much air time as nobody cares for the pro bowl, but it will make the players happy

  29. conormacleod says: Oct 28, 2015 12:03 PM

    Maybe players should just follow the guidelines set by their employer, and then PFT won’t have to right about this “injustice”.

    I didn’t bother to read the comments. Anybody suggest that his “freedom of speech” was violated here? That’s usually a fav of people.

  30. celticsforever says: Oct 28, 2015 12:07 PM

    Like the 6% the nfl donates to breast cancer research. And cancer donations only amount to about 30% going to actual research. So a $150 pink jersey has about 3 bucks that actually get into real research. Good job nfl. Good job. I’m glad you care. Integrity!!!! The nfl will never get another penny from me. I watch pvr game on free network TV and skip the commercials. Cheers

  31. jgedgar70 says: Oct 28, 2015 12:08 PM

    I understand the fine, as I know the definition of the word “uniform.” I also know that anyone that believes these fines actually get into the hands of charities is a complete and utter fool. They have to get RG1’s $44 million from somewhere.

  32. billytodd2013blbaad says: Oct 28, 2015 12:10 PM

    with the NFL’s track record on domestic abuse you’d think they’d embrace players doing this instead of punishing them,

  33. cmich2006 says: Oct 28, 2015 12:14 PM

    Williams and Gay have done this at home games with no fine but get fined on the road?

  34. autoriot says: Oct 28, 2015 12:17 PM

    I feel like all of these players that are doing things to alter their uniform in order to bring awareness to something, would be a lot better off just donating money to that cause. For starters, how about just donating the amount of money that they know they are going to be fined? When the NFL fines them, they pocket the money; it doesn’t go to help the cause.

    This ends up looking like its more about them and how they want to rebel against policy, than an actual attempt at raising awareness. Take those thousands of dollars, give it to your cause, and send out a tweet to raise awareness…go on the radio, make a Facebook post, walk around your town. Don’t let thousands of dollars disappear into the NFL’s pockets.

  35. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Oct 28, 2015 12:22 PM

    While I despise the league for the lip service they give to awareness and skimming cash of the top while disguising promoting themselves to female fans as a public service a uniform is just that. Allowing variations because they are worthwhile could get out of hand real quick thus involving the league office as an arbiter of what is legit. And we all know how well anything being subject to 345 Park Ave’s judgement and arbitration works out.

  36. artvan15 says: Oct 28, 2015 12:22 PM

    Another guy who isn’t smart enough to follow the rules.

  37. PokeSalad says: Oct 28, 2015 12:30 PM

    Trying to compare NFL players to a standard employer/employee relationship is just daft and you know that. It’s one that’s completely unique to the sports world.

    Please, enlighten us unwashed masses……

  38. goodellisagoner says: Oct 28, 2015 12:36 PM

    I think the name on the back of his jersey is why he wore purple shoes.

  39. pancaketaco says: Oct 28, 2015 12:39 PM

    Enough is enough with the money grabs…

    How about this no awareness games, weeks or months. Just wear the uniform as it was designed and intended. NFL and Yahoo proved this past weekend that their audience owns computers that have internet connections. If they want to be aware (which I’m pretty sure they are) they can get this knowledge on their own.

    As a fan I don’t care what the players care about the players causes or interests off the field…I care about seeing a good product.

  40. TheDPR says: Oct 28, 2015 12:39 PM

    Helmet, jersey, pants. That should be the limit of the uniform that the league can control. Shoes? Socks? Gloves? Eye black? Seriously? Come on man!

  41. truthfactory says: Oct 28, 2015 12:43 PM

    Question for all those who think the league is being ridiculous by fining these players… If you were the commsioner, would you allow the following?

    Player wants to wear purple shoes for domestic violence

    Player wants to wear pink socks for breast cancer

    Player wants to write “black lives matter” on black eye marks

    Player wants to write “support the police” on black eye marks

    Player wants to wear confederate socks to support small government

    Player wants to wear rainbow socks to support gay rights

    Player wants to write “stop abortion” on eye marks to support murdered unborn children

    Player wants to write “womens right to choose” on eye marks

    While any of these can be viewed as a “positive” message by some or all… It will force the NFL to pick and choose what is and is not an acceptable message.

    I think those who criticize these decisions fail to see the 30,000 foot view of what can and will eventually happen if they start making exceptions for individuals.

  42. defscottyb says: Oct 28, 2015 12:51 PM

    You can’t just do whatever you want and expect no consequences. Rules are in place for a reason. If nobody enforces the rules it will become a free for all anything goes atmosphere.

  43. sterling7 says: Oct 28, 2015 12:51 PM

    Wrong-William Gay got fined because he wore “purple”-the NFL associates “purple” with the Minnesota Vikings and they will do anything to undermine the Minnesota Vikings including fining players they think are associated with the Minnesota Vikings. The NFL does not want to see the Minnesota Vikings succeed on any level-right Goodell. By the way do you think we can stomp out domestic violence and at the same time stomp out Roger Goodell-just a thought……

  44. jayhawk6 says: Oct 28, 2015 1:02 PM

    He could recoup the fine amount and probably a lot more if he took Roger Goodell’s likeness, molded it onto urinal deodorant blocks and sold them on ebay.

  45. defscottyb says: Oct 28, 2015 1:06 PM

    Kluwe also tried this garbage with all his gay rights stuff and got fined. It’s not a black or white issue at all.

  46. genericcommenter says: Oct 28, 2015 1:07 PM

    November is officially set aside to honor violence. So, I guess they can’t have a tribute that conflicts with that message.

  47. realityonetwo says: Oct 28, 2015 1:26 PM

    If every player wore different colored shoes for their cause, none of them would stand out.

  48. duffelbagsports says: Oct 28, 2015 1:44 PM

    What happens when someone wants to support LAMBDA

  49. 6superbowls says: Oct 28, 2015 2:02 PM

    Where is the NFLPA for this? They’ll shell out tons of money to help that cheater in NE, but nah a word when supporting their players fined for supporting respectable causes.

    #patheticsport

  50. thegonz13 says: Oct 28, 2015 2:27 PM

    Look, I believe we’ve been through this countless times. The league has imposed a “dress code” and everyone has has to abide by it.

    Still, it strikes me as completely tone deaf on the part of the league (i.e. God-dell) to silence players who have worthy causes they want to champion. I’m all for breast cancer awareness but raising awareness when it comes to domestic violence, especially in light of the well-publicized Ray Rice incident and with Greg Hardy, just to name a few.

    Guess players with a social conscience will have to do it on their own time… Sigh!

  51. rofeo says: Oct 28, 2015 2:55 PM

    From a Bengals fan — good for Gay and especially his acknowledgement of knowingly breaking the rules and asking that his fine be donated to an appropriate charity.

  52. xinellum says: Oct 28, 2015 3:07 PM

    With the issues the NFL has with its Brady case, the Ray Rice/Greg Hardy/(multiple other) domestic violence issues and the problems they have with refereeing, I would think there are better ways to utilize their resources. The NFL reminds me of a senile old man who will spend thousands to keep kids off his lawn, the whole time the wiring in his house is faulty and his house burns down. Mark Cuban was more Nostradamus than Bozo the Clown when he told the NFL that their house would soon be burning down if they soon didn’t change their stupid management style.

  53. tomwayne1 says: Oct 28, 2015 4:05 PM

    jayhawk6 says:
    Oct 28, 2015 1:02 PM

    He could recoup the fine amount and probably a lot more if he took Roger Goodell’s likeness, molded it onto urinal deodorant blocks and sold them on ebay.

    ^^^
    Best comment so far!

  54. willhnic says: Oct 28, 2015 4:05 PM

    I like the idea of having one week to express a cause on your uniform. But maybe going through an approval process with the NFL at the beginning of the season will put more oversight in place. That way, multiple players and/or teams can sync up and do some fun and new things for fans to follow.

  55. rightisright1 says: Oct 28, 2015 4:10 PM

    Outstanding William! I have waited for years for the NFL to promote domestic violence. Thank you for taking a stand.

  56. 440Barracuda says: Oct 28, 2015 4:51 PM

    How about the league allowing a small patch under the NFL logo, on the jerseys, or a small square, a ribbon, on the back of the helmet that is either color related (pink, purple, yellow, etc), or the charity’s logo, that the player can donate a certain minimum amount to themk through the NFL, to that organization, to be allowed to wear the patch or helmet sticker. And if that player donates the minimum amount (maybe $10K, so all players can afford it if they wish), they can wear it for that entire season. The player gets to support their favorite charity, publicly and privately, and the league looks good for helping charities outside of what they already do.

  57. mellimac says: Oct 28, 2015 4:55 PM

    They should have casual Fridays, as many offices do…Gay should have dyed his hair, and everybody would have noticed (and no fine).

  58. frank booth says: Oct 28, 2015 5:32 PM

    sterling7 says:
    Oct 28, 2015 12:51 PM

    Wrong-William Gay got fined because he wore “purple”-the NFL associates “purple” with the Minnesota Vikings and they will do anything to undermine the Minnesota Vikings including fining players they think are associated with the Minnesota Vikings. The NFL does not want to see the Minnesota Vikings succeed on any level-right Goodell. By the way do you think we can stomp out domestic violence and at the same time stomp out Roger Goodell-just a thought……
    ==================================
    Don’t blame the Vikings’ ineptitude on the NFL. The Vikings and their fans do a good enough job of looking stupid on their own. They don’t need the NFL’s help.

  59. Moudabo says: Oct 28, 2015 6:28 PM

    Good for you William Gay.
    Losing your mother to such violence
    is tragic, and makes it personal.
    It`s a worthy cause to draw awareness to.
    The NFL surely can find a compromise
    to allow this, and similar `positive` messages.

  60. jdh2010 says: Oct 28, 2015 7:13 PM

    The NFL and its Czar need to lighten up. These guys already sport pink towels and shoes. So what would a pair of purple shoes make now? Then, Czar Goodell fined a player for honoring his dead father on eye black. Come on, man! This is FOOTBALL for crying out loud. These guys aren’t in the Marine Corps.

  61. mmack66 says: Oct 28, 2015 7:22 PM

    TheDPR says:
    Oct 28, 2015 12:39 PM

    Helmet, jersey, pants. That should be the limit of the uniform that the league can control. Shoes? Socks? Gloves? Eye black? Seriously? Come on man!
    ——————————

    Tell that to Nike.

  62. frank booth says: Oct 28, 2015 7:30 PM

    Players need to wear the uniforms that they are required to wear. I don’t really care to see a bunch of players different personal messages on various parts of their uniforms, their shoes, headbands, eyeblack, whatever.

    If I want to see messages scrawled all over something, I’ll go watch NASCAR, and watch cars go around in a circle really, really fast, because that’s entertaining.

  63. orivar says: Oct 28, 2015 8:09 PM

    hakunamangata says:
    Oct 28, 2015 11:38 AM
    Just wait for a domestic violence awareness month William. Then you can wear all the purple you want and the NFL can sell your jersey to help m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶n̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶e̶y̶ promote it.

    ——

    I’m glad you put that as it came out that most of the NFL’s proceeds from Breast Cancer goes straight to them!

  64. karenlewis5229 says: Oct 28, 2015 8:23 PM

    I am the owner Founder of The Angel House, 28441Five Mile Rd, Livonia, MI 48152 and I lost my daughter when she was 8 months pregnant March 22, 2014 due to domestic violence. Her abuser pled not guilty self defense but the jury said guilty 2 counts of capital murder life without parole. For my daughter and granddaughter. I will be an advocate for domestic violence for the rest of my life. I thank God that William Gay is bringing attention to the domestic violence in this world. I am truly sorry that he got fined but please continue to fight to bring awareness to Domestic Violence!

  65. shanaldo says: Oct 28, 2015 9:35 PM

    Wow…a player in the NFL does something positive…and he’s FINED??? Really…

    Can the players opt out of the breast cancer pink? (I was wondering – do they MAKE the players wear that?) I think domestic violence is a particularly worthy cause considering the NFL has had a few of them…

    I think this guy needs to sue the NFL for the right to wear his purple shoes IN THE NAME OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
    Jesus!!!

  66. witchrunner says: Oct 29, 2015 10:02 AM

    I guess this is the new age. The NFL is against cold weather deflating footballs, but not against domestic violence. Makes perfect sense.

  67. hamletsshrink says: Oct 29, 2015 5:03 PM

    Quick check: Gay’s contract says he makes approximately 1.6 million per season, including signing bonus. Sixteen games a season, that means $100,000 per game. His fine as less than 6% of his check. Were I in his (purple) shoes, that 6% is a small price to pay to offer respect to his mother.

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