PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward was disappointed to learn of his NFL fine for wearing eye black honoring his father, former NFL fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, on Monday Night Football against the Chargers.
Heyward's father battled cancer and died in May 2006. Heyward wore the words "Iron" and "Head" under his eyes, resulting in what a source says is a $5,787 fine. Heyward said he'll try to appeal the violation of the league's uniform policy, and he wants to continue to wear the eye black if he can. He understands the policy and isn't trying to be difficult by breaking rules.
"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 after Wednesday's practice.
The NFL doesn't make exceptions to its uniform policy. Recently, vice president of football operations Troy Vincent informed Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams that he couldn't wear pink accessories outside of October, which is breast cancer awareness month. Williams' mother, Sandra Hill, died of breast cancer in May 2014.
Heyward posted on social media Wednesday: "Got fined for honoring my Dad who bravely fought cancer on my eye black. #Nevergiveup #CancerSucks"
"There are a lot of other things we could be worried about," said Heyward about the league's decision to fine for such expression. "Guys want to do right by the league. They don't want to upset anybody. 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. We grew up in this game loving it. To be a part of it is a blessing, but I want to honor [my dad]."
This is not the first time Heyward has worn the "Ironhead" eye black, he said, but it is the first time he received a fine for doing so.
The Steelers showed they consider Heyward a defensive cornerstone this offseason by signing him to a six-year deal worth $60 million.