October is the month where the NFL shows how much it cares by having players wear pink to show their support for breast cancer. But the NFL won't allow Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward to honor his father, who lost a battle with cancer in 2006.
Heyward tweeted Wednesday that he had been fined by the NFL. Not for causing an injury with a helmet-to-helmet blow, and not for criticizing the officials. He was fined for putting the message "Iron Head" on his eye black.
The message was a tribute to his father Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, who spent 11 years in the NFL as a fullback, most notably with New Orleans and Atlanta. Heyward died of bone cancer at the age of 39, when Cam was only 17.
The standard fine for a first violation of the league's uniform policy against "personal messages" is $5,787.
"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 said Wednesday, via Jeremy Folwer of ESPN. "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."
Heyward's fine comes only days after the league told his teammate, DeAngelo Williams, that he has to stop wearing pink at the end of October. Williams wanted to wear it all season to honor his mother, who died of breast cancer, but the NFL refused.
The heartless decisions toward Heyward and Williams will only fuel the fire of criticism about the NFL's "Pink October" campaign. In 2013, Business Insider found that only that only 8.01 percent of the money raised by the sale of pink-themed merchandise goes to cancer research.
Also, as the two Steelers learned, the NFL only allows players to visibly support cancer victims if it matches their merchandise sales -- so it has to be breast cancer and it has to be in October.