Faith and his belief in God are at the forefront of Demario Davis’s life. The NFL has fined him for putting it on his forehead, too.

During a Sept. 22 game against the Seattle Seahawks, the New Orleans Saints linebacker wore a headband matching the team’s colors bearing the words, “Man of God.” He said he was fined $7,017 for a first-offense uniform violation even though the headband wasn’t visible beneath his helmet. NFL rules are strict when it comes to game-day apparel, and personal messages are prohibited.

“I don’t think a lot of people were aware of the policy that was in place — I wasn’t even fully aware of it,” Davis said Wednesday (via Nola.com). “I just wanted to put it out and just kind of help fans who care about the game understand a more intricate part of the game. …

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“Of course you don’t want to be fined. Nobody wants to lose money, but I think any time that the conversation about God is brought up, especially in these times, I think it’s always a positive or silver lining. If He can get glory from it, I think He can get glory from it whether I personally wear the headband or don’t wear the headband. He’s always going to be in control of the whole situation. We’re still all good.”

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Three years ago, the NFL cracked down when players used their cleats to display social, political, patriotic, memorial or charitable messages. Yeezy cleats earned a thumbs down, 9/11 tribute cleats got a thumbs up, and cleats that didn’t feature team colors were very out as fines were handed out like Skittles. The episode became a PR hit for the NFL, so it approved a “My Cause, My Cleats” weekend when players could send a message with their feet — with the league’s advance approval. That didn’t extend to headbands, though, and in any case the exception was granted only for one weekend a year.

Davis, 30, posted an image of his headband along with news of the fine on social media over the weekend. The post drew more than 10,000 likes, along with 3,400 comments to the question of whether he should wear the headband again Sunday night when the Saints faced the Dallas Cowboys in prime time. He decided against it because repeat fines escalate under a schedule collectively bargained by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. A second offense would have drawn a $14,037 fine.

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“My faith is always going to be the most important aspect of my leadership,” Davis said in an Associated Press interview in 2014, when he was with the New York Jets. “I was a leader off the field on this team before I was a leader on the field. I wanted my character to speak for me before I even stepped foot on the field. I wanted guys to know that I put God first, I put my family second and I put football third.”

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News of the fine drew criticism on social media, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeting, “Why so many empty seats at NFL games? Players who show disrespect for flag & Anthem are defended by NFL & get Nike contracts, but players who express their faith get fined big $$ for ‘personal messages.’"

Davis said he plans to change how his message is distributed. Instead of paying fines, which go to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Players Assistance Trust, he plans to market the headbands and donate the proceeds to charity or a Christian organization.

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“I’m hoping to put it out where fans can wear it,” he said, “and I can wear it through them.”

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