The NFL has a long list of reasons to fine players, ranging from personal conduct policy violations to in-game fouls. Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster just received a fine for an odd uniform violation. The league docked him $5,000 for improperly wearing his socks during a game against the Tennessee Titans.
Smith-Schuster posted a photo on his Instagram Stories that showed the fine letter. He circled a specific text line that said, "your stockings failed to cover your lower leg" as the reason for the fine. Smith-Schuster also revealed that running back James Conner received a fine for the same violation. The two men apparently violated the league's "stockings" portion of the equipment rulebook.
"Stockings must cover the entire area from the shoe to the bottom of the pants, and must meet the pants below the knee," the NFL rulebook states. "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."
With the news that Smith-Schuster and Conner both received fines for their socks being too low, Twitter users responded with a wide variety of comments. Some said that the league "must be hurting for money" and that the fines are a way to recoup some cash. Others wondered why Washington Football Team linebacker Jonathan Bostic only received a $12,000 fine for an illegal hit that gave Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton a concussion.
The Pittsburgh Steelers players aren't the first in the NFL to draw the ire of officials due to their socks. New York Jets running back Frank Gore also received a large fine during his days with the San Francisco 49ers. He wore his socks down by his ankles during the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons in January 2013. The league responded by docking Gore $10,500 and ensured that his socks would be the "appropriate height" during Super Bowl XLVII.