What’s the Dumbest Fine the NFL Has Handed Out So Far This Season?

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Colin Kaepernick (pictured above), quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers and one of the more visible endorsees in the entire NFL — second only perhaps to public relations prototype Russell Wilson — was fined $10,000 for wearing his pink Beats By Dre headphones after a game last weekend. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and even as the league is dialing back its “all pink everything” approach to visible displays of support for the cause, the NFL is still allowing players to display ample patches of the color. The items just have to be league-approved, and the league-approved headphone, for the record, is Bose.

The same way the NFL semi-routinely fines players for wearing the wrong sort of shirts — in this case, “wrong” would refer to “not a partner company with the NFL,” which has the final say on what goes out onto the field; players can sign their own endorsement deals independently of the league  — the organization will often level financial hits on players for their on-the-field actions. Some of these penalties are legitimate, like the fine Julius Thomas received for his chop block a couple of days ago. Some of them are, to put it one way, pulled out of a grey area that masquerades, from time to time, as the NFL’s moral conscience.

Sometimes, these punishments are relatively token, like the Adrian Peterson situation: He’s barred from any interaction with his team, but the $11 million he’s owed this year isn’t in jeopardy. Sometimes they’re incredibly lax, like the original Ray Rice judgement, which threw the league through the wringer more roughly and loudly than anyone would have predicted. And sometimes they’re kind of dumb. We’re going to look at some of the dumb ones right now. All fine information is courtesy of Spotrac.

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The most egregious, without fail, has got to go to the NFL’s handling of Cameron Hayward (pictured above), the Steeler who was fined more than $22,000 for cursing out an official with “abusive language.” That’s almost twice what Geno Smith was fined for telling the crowd “Fuck you” after they booed him. In both cases, this is absurd. Because there’s no real fiscal governance around what a given fine should be in the NFL, we exist in a world where a professional football player can lose nearly three times the amount of money from yelling at a referee than he would from performing a hit so dirty the league had to call it. That’s ridiculous.

Other notable dings to the wallets of NFL players this year have included the punishment of Mike Williams, of Buffalo, for wearing red socks (he was hit with over $11,ooo in fines); LeGarrette Blount’s $5,000 fine for throwing a football into the stands (Terrell Suggs got a similar fine for wearing an unauthorized helmet, and Michael Crabtree got one for wearing the wrong-colored cleats); and Peyton Manning, who got a preseason bill for taunting his opponent. That one was for over $8,000.