Devon Still said he was never fined for “Leah Strong” eye black

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Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward has gotten plenty of attention for using his eye black to promote a cause that’s personal to him, and being fined for it.

And critics of the NFL’s one-size-fits-all uniform policy have more ammunition now, since another player did the same thing all last year with no fines at all.

According to Coley Harvey of, former Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still said he wore eye-black messages reading “Leah Strong” all last season, as his way of recognizing his daughter during her battle with cancer.

“When I did it, I had no idea you weren’t allowed to do it,” Still said. “It was just something I wanted to do for my daughter to take her out on the field with me. I didn’t really get any backlash from the league.”

The league has said it will continue to fine Heyward $11,576 per week if he continues wearing his “Iron Head” eye black, which he’s done the last two weeks to honor his late father’s battle with cancer.

Heyward has an appeal of his original $5,787 fine being heard today, and it will be interesting to see how the league responds to the widespread criticism.

They don’t want to open the floodgates for every player to emblazon themselves with personal messages at the risk of their monolithic brand. But at the same time, they come off as either callous to personal tragedies or some combination of hypocritical and/or unaware that another player did the same thing Heyward did for an entire year.

Heyward’s father, former Saints running back Craig Heyward, died in 2006. Leah Still became a national phenomenon last year, creating an outpouring of support the NFL wouldn’t have dared curbed.

“I definitely support him,” Still said of Heyward. “He’s using his platform and trying to support his dad with an important cause. I don’t see nothing wrong that. . . .

“Myself and a few other players had been having meetings with the league about what it can do to help players more in promoting their causes. It seemed like we were making strides with the league in support of players who had certain causes. . . . Hopefully it’s not too much longer before that changes.”

Many would likely agree with Still, though the league has understandable concerns. We’ll see if the tide of public support is enough to make them bend.

42 responses to “Devon Still said he was never fined for “Leah Strong” eye black

  1. Simple fix:

    If a player wants to do something like this then they first have to request permission from the league.

  2. Easy fix, if the violation has clear positive intentions rather than marketing then still fine him, but allow him to send the fine to the cause he is supporting. Do it proactively with dialogue as opposed to being confrontational. Win-win.

  3. Request permission like De’Angelo Williams did for his mother that passed from Breast Cancer? And get denied right?

  4. smarterfootball says:
    Oct 20, 2015 2:45 PM
    Simple fix:

    If a player wants to do something like this then they first have to request permission from the league.

    Deangelo Williams requested permission to wear pink for the whole year to honor breast cancer but the league turned him down. They won’t allow anything that does not give them a profit.

  5. As a business owner, I can see the league’s position. AS A FAMILY MAN, I can see the player’s side as well!

    Some of the above suggestions, such as it being mutually understood (league/player) & the fines being directed to a specific cause have merit.

    The way I see it, there’s no clear easy answer. Especially, if there’s precedent set by another player.

    Another example of the league shooting itself in the foot???

  6. Odds that the NFL approves it, and then sells Ironhead eye-black strips? And like with the pink NFL gear, pockets like 95% of the money?

    Because, integrity of the game. Not greed and profit. Nope. Nothing to see here, move along.

  7. Honestly the NFL should handle it on a case by case basis. If a player would like to be exempted from the uniform policy because of personal or medical(I.e. special shoes) reasons then they just submit a written request to the league explaining what they are doing and the NFL responsibly decides (this part is a bit of a stretch) whether or not the player can be exempt. But realistically the NFL would never support charity without getting their cut

  8. Hayward should so the NFL for harassment on mourning his fathers death on this issue. 5 million in damages!
    If a player did it last year then it should be allowed now.

  9. He should have just worn the Hot Pink eye black stickers and wrote his dad’s name in Hot Pink marker and the league would never have known. Problem solved.

  10. Just ban eye black already! Men shouldn’t wear make-up. I would be with the league because personal messages can be too open to interpretation or abuse or politics, and the players have the other 167 hours of each week to do these personal things – but this is exactly what the NFL deserves for breaking their uniform policy themselves with their shameless pink which is unrelated to football and more about making money for themselves and attracting female fans than any real care about or fundraising for the illness.

  11. In the words of 89P13 (Rocket)

    Boo hoo hoo, everybody has dead people.

    You want to wear what you want to wear, go be a music star or a movie star. You want to be an individual? Go play golf. Football is a team sport that include uniforms.

    Or just get a tattoo if you care that much.

  12. The whole pink thing needs a second look. Google this a bit to see what is really happening.

    Not insensitive to cancer as I have multiple families members affected but this pink thing is not what it appears.

    A lot of people are making a lot of money and only a tiny bit is actually going to cancer research.

  13. openfieldtackle says:
    Oct 20, 2015 3:49 PM

    Hayward should so the NFL for harassment on mourning his fathers death on this issue. 5 million in damages!
    If a player did it last year then it should be allowed now.

    His father passed away 9 years ago.

  14. So Still’s daughter was actually fighting for her life, meanwhile Iron Head has been dead for 9yrs. Big difference

  15. The league need to shut there mouth and open there mind ,this isn’t affecting any players ,and it definitely doesn’t distract players so let it be
    What about cheater Brady

  16. NFL exploited Still, widely covered the story and profited off of it. That is the only difference.
    Still likely understood that and made the decision that he was willing to be exploited if by doing so it could help his daughter. I don’t fault him for making that decision.

  17. Stills was forced to play for the bengals annual one-and-done squad. Isn’t that punishment enough. Heyward, on the other hand, will be sporting a SB ring in 5 months. Big difference on fines levied.

  18. You can use the “I understand it from an owner’s perspective” excuse only if you believe the NFL gives a damn about the Integrity of the Shield. But it doesn’t. It smears the integrity of the shield repeatedly and continuously just by keeping Goodell the Narcissist as commissioner. Their own requirement states the commissioner must be someone of unquestionable integrity. Federal judges have called him a liar. So if the owners refuse to fire him then any rule in place that implies it is intended to protect the integrity of the shield should fall by the wayside. Fire Goodell and then maybe the image of the NFL will be taken seriously.

  19. Devon Still got away with it because he wasn’t honoring one of the great players of the NFL.

  20. Whatever the NFL decides to do with Heyward, roger will butcher it as he always does. Of course he will stick his finger in the wind first and see which way the wind is blowing.

  21. Let’s see now. Jay Feely doctors a ball and gets an $8,500 dollar fine for equipment violation. Tom Brady? 4 game suspension without pay, Pats docked 1st and 4th round picks, and $1 million fine. Yep, that’s the NFL for you. Even handed application of penalties. Good luck Hayward, plan on riding this one to the Supreme Court. The NFL front office is staffed with pathetic human beings. Starting off with hizzhonor the Commish.

  22. I doubt the Supreme Court will get involve with this issue. This issue is the league has a dress code that they inforce as the wind blows, so it becomes an issue, have MR. Wells look into it, perhaps he will only charge one million for a white wash job. Bill

  23. There are other ways Heyward to accomplish the same thing without getting fined. He could write his message on his pads or inside his helmet, for instance – it would never be never be seen on tv. Or, he could just get a tattoo.

  24. Still’s plight was in the moment plus he and his daughter reaped the benefits before, during and after the season. Iron Head passed 9 years ago. If every player wanted to feel nostalgic every year, there’d be silliness going down every game. I sure the heck can’t promote any personal issue at work…because the boss says so. Buy a billboard, hang a sign in your yard,start a foundation, but don’t make it out like your employer is a villain because you get the feels every so often.

  25. kevo95 says:
    Oct 20, 2015 4:28 PM

    The league need to shut there mouth and open there mind ,this isn’t affecting any players ,and it definitely doesn’t distract players so let it be
    What about cheater Brady
    It’s hard to support someone’s position if they cannot or refuse to put full sentences together into a coherent thought.

    A ‘C’ in any high school English class should be considered an ‘F’.

  26. Also, what was advertised on make-a-wish with a player wearing a rubber wristband to support a great cause and a sick child.

    The NFL has a brand to protect, and I get that. But things such as a wristband, or eye black should not be punished in any capacity. It is a thoughtful way to support a cause without changing your team uniform (Helmet, jersey, pants, socks and cleats).

    Worst case scenario, if they continue to fine the players, all money should be donated to a charity that will fully benefit the families fighting these battles with illness and cancers.

    To fine players for writing non-offensive language on eye black is inhumane and makes the league seem so out of touch.

  27. Just another case in which the league office is making it up to fit their agenda.
    Players should start going to court over all fines. Don’t accept Rogers rulings. Only way the players can try and have some say in this dictatorship eventually by forcing a change in the CBA.

  28. To Roger Goodell, a player’s face is the property of Nike and the rest of the NFL’s big @$$ sponsors.

  29. When a team owner or the spouse die, the entire team wears a patch with the initials on it. How is that any different? As far as a dress code, that’s ridiculous, I see players with color shoes almost every week. The NFL has bigger problems then what the players put on eye black. With substance abuse and domestic violence to state a few.

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