Along the way, Davis picked up support from a New Orleans-area Catholic school, where youngsters showed off their own versions Tuesday of the “Man of God” headband that garnered the NFL’s scrutiny.
“So my agent just told me that I won my appeal and won’t have to pay the headband fine!!” Davis, 30, wrote Tuesday on social media. He noted that children from St. Louis King of France Catholic School in Metairie, La., “came together today to support the movement.”
“Look at all these beautiful children of God!” Davis added.
The eighth-year NFL player, in his second season with the Saints, went on to assert that he would be “taking every penny of that original $7,017 fine” and donating it to St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Miss., where he grew up. According to the hospital, Davis’s mother worked there while he starred in high school, before he went on to become a third-round pick by the New York Jets in 2012.
Sales of headbands emblazoned with “Man of God” and “Woman of God” to raise funds for St. Dominic picked up after the NFL informed Davis he would be fined for wearing one during a September game between his Saints and the Seattle Seahawks. He quickly posted an image of one of the headbands and asked his social media followers, “Should I continue to wear it, or nah?”
Davis decided to stop wearing the garment on game days, thus sparing himself the prospect of greater fines, but his post, which included a link to a website where the headbands were available for purchase, went viral.
“So far, we’ve raised over $30,000 for [the hospital] from the headbands!!” Davis wrote Tuesday. “That means yall helped me turn a $7,000 negative into an almost $40,000 positive benefiting people who truly need it!!!"
League rules state that while players are “visible to the stadium and television audience” on game days, they are “prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office.”
A spokesman for the NFL was not immediately available for comment on Davis’s case.
“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 told the New Orleans Times-Picayune last week. “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.”
“Of course you don’t want to be fined,” Davis said to the newspaper. “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.”
News of the fine from the NFL made ripples nationally, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeting last week, “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.’"
Suggestions online that Davis was being punished by the NFL for expressing a religious viewpoint got the attention of fact-checking website Snopes.com, which clarified that the offense was related to the “ 'personal message’ provision of the league’s dress code policy.” The website pointed out that the NFL has previously fined players for, among other things, wearing unauthorized items that supported causes such as breast cancer awareness, as well as for donning wrong-colored socks.
After expressing delight over the money raised by the headband sales, Davis wrote Tuesday that his experience showed how “obstacles are meant to be conquered.”
“I’m truly blessed as anybody,” he added.