Plummer Fined for Honoring Tillman
Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer must remove the No. 40 decal he’s worn on the back of his helmet since training camp that honors former Arizona Cardinals teammate Pat Tillman. Tillman, the former safety who walked away from the NFL to join the U.S. Army Rangers and fight in Afghanistan, was killed in action in April. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday the league’s long-standing policy prohibits personal messages on uniforms or helmets. Violators could face fines of $5,000. “We do that because we need a consistent rule. You can’t just pick and choose and say one message is OK but another isn’t. Where would you draw the line?” Aiello said.
The league has honored Tillman several times this year, including at the NFL draft, at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in August, and on the second week of the season when all NFL players wore Tillman’s number on their helmets. “I want to honor Pat the best I can. I honor Pat every day, every game in my own private way,” Plummer said. “I’m trying to get something done that won’t infringe upon the NFL logo and uniform codes. “I’m not going to fight the NFL,” he said. “I’m looking for some kind of compromise.”
Plummer and Tillman became close friends after playing together at Arizona State and later with the Cardinals. Plummer said he has been wearing a small No. 40 on the back of his helmet since training camp. The Cardinals will display Tillman’s number on their helmets every game this season, but individual players, such as Plummer, are not allowed to do so.
The NFL looks petty in this situation, as it did when it threatened to fine Peyton Manning for honoring Johnny Unitas by wearing his trademark black hightops the week after his death. I can understand the league not wanting players’ uniforms to become billboards for personal expression, but one would think a small, tasteful decal to honor a former NFL player would be allowed. Barring a rules change, the NFL has little choice but to fine Plummer. Perhaps they could agree to use the $5000 fines for some sort of Tillman scholarship.