Yesterday, 49ers whipping boy-turned-golden boy Alex Smith revealed the National Football League nearly whipped its share of gold out of him. He was threatened with a $15,000 fine for wearing a San Francisco Giants cap during postgame interviews, a move that dates back to last season -- and, yes, warmed the hearts of local fans.
The league backed off on the fine, so this can be considered a Giant admonishment. Still, it's unlikely Smith will be wearing his lucky black-and-orange cap during the 90 minutes following games, when all but officially branded NFL merchandise is verboten.
Now, $15,000 buys a lot of pretzels. It's 15 times the penalty Brian Wilson had to pay for waddling around in orange shoes. But it's also a fraction of the $100,000 fine levied upon Brian Urlacher for donning an unacceptable chapeau.
In fact, you'd be surprised at how expensive a sartorial misstep can be for an NFL player:
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Per the now-defunct website UniformViolations.com:
The NFL collects fines immediately [which are] then returned after an appeal or settlement.
Fines range from $5,000 to $25,000. Wearing a college hat on the field is an example of a $25,000 violation.
Foreign Substances on Body/Uniform is $10,000 or $15,000 (Additional fines may be imposed on team management and coaching staffs for condoning, permitting, etc., violations in this area.)
Other Uniform/Equipment uniform violation is $5,000 or $10,000
On Field violation fines increase for all playoff games (as of 01/2011): First Offense: $50,000, Second Offense: $75,000
On Field violation fines increase for Pro Bowl (as of 01/2011): $50,000
Super Bowl uniform violation: $100,000. On Field Preseason and Regular Season uniform violation: $10,000 or $20,000. NFL player fine money is split evenly among four organizations: the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund, the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Research Center, ALSO Neuromuscular Research Foundation and the NFLPA Player Assistance Trust.