As we’ve come to expect from the NFL, the league didn’t take too kindly to Odell Beckham Jr. violating its uniform policy to sport colorful cleats in honor of beloved broadcaster Craig Sager, who died from acute myeloid leukemia last week, even if the New York Giants receiver did so in the name of charity.
The NFL fined Beckham $18,000 for wearing the cleats during Sunday’s 17-6 win over the Detroit Lions, he revealed in a comment left on an Instagram post by Washington Redskins wideout DeSean Jackson, who was also venting about a fine for violating the uniform policy. Beckham intended to auction his cleats off after the game and donate the proceeds to the SagerStrong Foundation for cancer research.
— Kickasso (@k_obrand) December 18, 2016
“Don’t worry I got fined 18k for Craig Sager that were auction off the cleats to the highest bidder and donating the proceeds to his cancer research,” Beckham wrote in a [sic]-heavy comment. “18k like it’s nothin to them, no warning to take them off or anything, noTHING.”
Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. leaves a comment on DeSean Jackson's IG post about the NFL fining him for Craig Sager cleats. pic.twitter.com/VbjEvFMJwK
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) December 21, 2016
Beckham addressed the fine further on Thursday, saying the NFL had “no respect for the message”:
18k without a single warning , but the world would never kno, they act like it's no big deal. No respect for the message IMO https://t.co/Ym30L1FnCP
— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) December 22, 2016
NFL players should expect to be fined at this point. The strict uniform policy is nothing new, as the league even fined DeAngelo Williams for wearing eyeblack with a pink ribbon and the words “FIND THE CURE” in an attempt to raise breast cancer awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2015.
However, the league blurred those lines by granting players permission to wear cleats in support of charity in Week 13 and apparently allowing Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown to wear cleats in honor of Arnold Palmer on Oct. 2. Of course, the NFL then reportedly forced Brown to remove Muhammad Ali-themed cleats a week later. It can be dizzying to keep track of what constitutes a fine.
Case in point: Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was not fined for jumping into a Salvation Army kettle following a score on Sunday, which caught the eye of several players, including Beckham.
That's funny there's no fine for that. I could only imagine if I was the one to do it. Just bein honest .
— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) December 19, 2016
It’s strange to have the foresight to expect a fine, and then complain about that fine when it comes, but that doesn’t mean the NFL’s policy is perfect, either. Granted, fines don’t go directly to the league office — they’re pooled to support ex-players through two foundations — but the NFL and its players should simply come to agreement on this point of contention. If the league must fine players who wear non-compliant cleats to support charity, those fines should just go to that charity. For example, can’t Beckham’s $18,000 fine just go to the SagerStrong Foundation? That at least makes sense.
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