Last week’s win over the Tennessee Titans didn’t come without a cost to two Pittsburgh Steelers players.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner were each fined $5,000 for wearing their socks too low, the former revealed on Instagram story on Tuesday. Specifically, the NFL told them “your stockings failed to cover your lower leg.”
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 3, 2020
At least that’s less than the $10,000 that Frank Gore lost back in 2013 for the same “violation.”
Here’s a photo of the offense in action:
Those socks apparently violated the “stockings” portion of the NFL rulebook’s equipment section, which imposes the following restrictions:
Stockings must cover the entire area from the shoe to the bottom of the pants, and must meet the pants below the knee. Players are permitted to wear as many layers of stockings and tape on the lower leg as they prefer, provided the exterior is either a: (a) one-piece stocking that includes solid white from the top of the shoe to the mid-point of the lower leg, and approved team color or colors (non-white) from that point to the top of the stocking; or (b) solid color stocking (i.e., entire stocking from bottom of pant leg to top of shoe), but all players must be in the same stocking style and color in any particular game.
Solid stockings must be a consistent color from the bottom of the pant leg to the top of the shoe. Uniform stockings may not be altered (e.g., over-stretched, cut at the toes, or sewn short) in order to bring the line between solid white and team colors lower or higher than the mid-point of the lower leg. No other stockings and/or opaque tape may be worn over the one-piece, two-color uniform stocking. Barefoot punters and placekickers may omit the stocking of the kicking foot in preparation for and during kicking plays.
Obviously, $5,000 doesn’t mean the same thing to Smith-Schuster and Conner as it does to most people. They can afford it, even on their rookie deals. However, it’s still hard to disregard two players losing that kind of money for an offense that was probably noticed by only the people in charge of enforcing these sanctions.
Forget $5,000, imagine your employer demanding $50 from you because they deemed your socks to be too low. Making sure players have a cohesive aesthetic during gamedays is something the NFL has reason to value, but fining them this much may be an instep too far.
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