The NFL fined Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams for raising breast cancer awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness month. As part of an ongoing trend of the NFL pushing its products above cause, Williams was fined $5,757 for having “We will find a cure” with the pink ribbon on his eye black during games this month. This during the month when the NFL promotes its partnership with the American Cancer Society’s efforts to raise awareness of the disease every October.
Over the course of the years, the NFL has established strict rules about what can and cannot be done during the month known for pink towels, pink gloves and pink ribbons on the field as part of an effort to increase the number of women getting mammograms for early detection of breast cancer. This has included allowing Williams to dye parts of his hair pink and paying for mammograms for 53 women in Pittsburgh and Carolina (he was with Carolina for nine seasons).
This did not stop the NFL from cracking down on eye black, though.
"We will find a cure" and the breast cancer ribbon were printed on DeAngelo Williams' eyeblack this month. The NFL just fined him $5757
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 28, 2015
Earlier in October, the NFL said the running back could not wear pink throughout the season to raise awareness of the disease, which killed his mother in May of last year.
But, in an odd twist, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler is reporting that this is not the first time Williams has been wearing the eye black.
NFL fined DeAngelo Williams $5,787 for 'Find the Cure' eye black – he's been wearing it for five years, first… https://t.co/WuvkthVKdg
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 28, 2015
Why, during the month when the NFL touts its relationship to women’s health concerns, does the league decide to crack down on the message?
This not the first time the NFL has been cracking down on cancer awareness messages. Cameron Heyward, also with Pittsburgh, was fined $5,787 for honoring his dad, former NFL player Craig Heyword, who died of cancer in 2006. Cameron Heyward wore eye black with his father’s nickname “Iron Head” during a game.
“To lose a person like that due to cancer, for cancer awareness, I don’t think it should be a big deal at all,” Heyward told Fowler after receiving the fine. “I do it to honor somebody, DeAngelo does it to honor somebody, it shouldn’t be taken to offense by anybody. We’re not trying to gain publicity by it.”
The light shining on the two fines only adds to the criticism by others that the NFL is promoting breast cancer awareness for its own profit and not for ending the disease, which kills more than 40,000 women and men annually. A Business Insider investigation into the money raised by the NFL during its October promotion found that just over 8 percent of the revenue actually goes to breast cancer research.