NFL now the No Fair League
By Marc NettlesThe NFL recently fined rookie Cam Heyward $5,787 for wearing eye black with the nickname of his late father and former San Diego Chargers fullback, Craig “Iron Head” Heyward. Cam claims he was wearing the eye black to raise awareness for the cancer that took his father’s life in 2006. I see no wrongdoing in this on Heyward’s behalf. As a father of a child with autism and the husband to a wife with epilepsy, I take every opportunity I can to publicly support them in their struggles and to raise awareness for others. While the NFL softened its stance on Heyward’s eye black and did not fine him further after he wore the same message on his eye black the following week, they did not budge on allowing him to continue wearing it. Please note that former Cincinnati Bengals lineman Devon Still was not punished for wearing ‘Leah Strong’ on his eye black in support of his daughter, who was battling pediatric cancer. Let me distinguish these two situations. Craig Heyward passed nine years ago. His son is a barely-known rookie who otherwise wouldn’t make Sports Center. Leah Still is a beautiful, strong young woman whose illness was turned into a ‘selfless’ support campaign by an opportunistic public relations and marketing department, at a time when the league was looking rather terrible. Players were getting arrested seemingly weekly. Fines and suspensions were getting botched by Roger Goodell. And precious Leah Still gave everyone in the league a worthy distraction. Devon Still was simply being a dad and doing everything he could for his baby girl. The same thing I would do. The league never batted an eye. They ate it up and regurgitated it in public relations, as if to say, “See, we’re not so bad! We stand beside this adorable little girl battling this terrible disease.” True colors always have a way of coming out. The No Fair League is selfishly placing more importance on one life than the other. Shame on you, NFL.