It used to be that pink was the last color you would find on the football field. But thanks to the NFL's push to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month, the color has become almost commonplace on the gridiron. Towels, gloves and caps have all turned pink during the month of October for the past few years — all of which are available for purchase.
But apparently,the NFL's movement doesn't extend to all aspects of the uniform. That's what Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive end Cameron Heyward found out a few weeks ago when he wanted to honor his father Craig, a cancer victim.
Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, an 11-year NFL veteran, died of a brain tumor in 2006. With Breast Cancer Awareness month in full swing, Heyward paid tribute to his father in an Oct. 12 game against the Chargers by writing "IRON HEAD" on his eye black stickers.
However, displaying personal messages on eye black is a violation of the NFL uniform policy. Heyward was fined $5,787 by the league for the offense.
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) October 14, 2015
Despite the fine, Heyward again honored his father again this weekend in the Steelers' win over the Cardinals. This time, he was fined $11,576 and was notified the league would continue to fine him that amount for each subsequent offense.
On Tuesday, Heyward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he will appeal his fines and continue to honor his father on his eye back:
“I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes or upset the league office, but I want to continue to do it at least for this month,” Heyward said. “I would love to be able to [do it] this month and make an awareness for all types of cancer. I’m very sincere when I say I’m not trying to be someone who is a rebel against the cause or someone who is against everybody. I care about this league, but I also care about people who are struggling. I understand the struggles they go through. My dad went through that struggle, and I saw it every day.”
Fines collected by the NFL are donated to various league-sponsored charities.
Heyward isn't the only Steeler who's ran into trouble while paying tribute to loved ones. Running back DeAngelo Williams — who had a mother and four aunts taken by breast cancer — requested the league office earlier this season to allow him wear pink accessories all season. The NFL denied his request.
Taking matters into his own hands, Williams dyed the ends of his dreadlocks pink and has sported the look all season.
Earlier this month, Williams was featured in an NFL ad campaign to help raise breast cancer awareness.
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 11, 2015
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.