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NFL won’t keep Cameron Heyward from playing with “Ironhead” eye black tribute

Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has, for the second time, violated the NFL’s rules regarding the use of personal messages by putting “IRON” and “HEAD” on his eye black, as a tribute to his late father, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.

For a second offense under the NFL fine schedule, Heyward will lose $11,576.

Per a league source, the consequence for any and all subsequent offenses will be additional fines -- and the amount will not increase beyond $11,576 per infraction. Although the league has at times informed players who, for example, intend to wear non-conforming shoes that they will be prevented from taking the field, the source says the league will not stop Heyward from playing or compel him to remove the strips containing a personal message.

Behind the scenes, the league will work with the Steelers in an effort to persuade Heyward to comply with the uniform rules. The hope is that, eventually, Heyward will decide to stop forfeiting five figures per week to the league’s charitable endeavors.

Because, however, the gesture is only seen occasionally during the game broadcast and because Heyward’s violation arises from a desire to honor a family member and not to draw attention to a flashy piece of footwear, Heyward will be allowed to play indefinitely with the message below his eyes.

So, basically, no one is keeping Heyward from honoring his father. Instead, the league will charge him more than $11,000 per week for the ability to do so.