Last week at this time, the NFL had nothing to say regarding whether Steelers receiver Antonio Brown had been fined for wearing a pink mouthpiece during a Week Eight loss to the Bengals. The league has now informed PFT that Brown was not fined for the non-conformance with the NFL’s uniform policy.
Brown’s gesture came a day after the conclusion of the NFL’s annual breast cancer awareness month, which allows players to wear pink mouthpieces and other pink accessories. But with the league office facing repeated criticism for fines imposed on Steelers players who broke the uniform rules for good causes (Cameron Heyward, Deangelo Williams, William Gay), the NFL apparently decided that it didn’t want any more criticism.
The bad news is that the league potentially has created a precedent that will allow other players to wear pink beyond October or otherwise support causes they deem to be valid and then to argue that, because Brown wasn’t fined, they shouldn’t be fined.
And so the handling of players who don’t strictly comply with the uniform policy will continue to be a sticky subject for the league, primarily because the league allows deviations from the uniform policy on the league’s terms during October and November but sometimes (not all the time) refuses to allow players to do the same thing.