Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward recently wanted to honor his late father, Craig, during his team’s Week Four game against the Ravens. And so he did, applying the words “Iron” and “Head” to his eye black.
And, inevitably, Cam Heyward has been fined for the gesture.
“Got fined for honoring my Dad who bravely fought cancer on my eye black,” Heyward said on Twitter.
Heyward is the second Steeler this week to take issue with the league’s refusal to allow players to honor family members beyond the narrow exception for pink in the month of October. Running back DeAngelo Williams wanted to wear pink in his uniform all year to honor his mother, who died of breast cancer last year at the age of 53. The NFL said no.
The league is being criticized for its stance as to Williams, and the league surely will be criticized for fining Heyward. While the league obviously needs to set barriers on when and how the uniform will be something other than, you know, uniform, the NFL has created this problem by allowing deviation from the concept of a uniform for two specific causes.
They do it in October for breast cancer awareness, and they do it in November for the “Salute to Service.” While both are worthy causes, why does the NFL select those two but no others?
How about prostate cancer? Colon cancer? Skin cancer? All three are deadly but preventable. How about one week in October for each of those causes?
The NFL has invited these questions and any ensuing criticism by selecting two causes to the exclusion of all others. Maybe there should be a way to use the NFL platform to promote other causes, too.