NFL Fines Colin Kaepernick $10,000 for Wearing Beats by Dre Headphones

League has exclusive deal with Bose which prohibits athletes from promoting competing products (like Beats) on field or during official press conferences

By Rebecca Macatee Oct 10, 2014 1:10 PMTags
Colin Kaepernick, NFL, San Francisco 49ersStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick plays by his own rules.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback received a $10,000 fine from the NFL for wearing non-Bose headphones during a post-game press conference Sunday. The reason? Per NBC, the league recently signed an exclusive deal with Bose, which means players can't promote competing products (like Beats by Dre, which Kaepernick was wearing) on the field or during official press conferences.

The 26-year-old athlete, who has an endorsement deal with Beats, purportedly wore bright pink headphones in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. He addressed the fine on Thursday, Instagramming a screen-grab of ESPN's article about his $10,000 fine. "I support breast cancer awareness!" he wrote. "My grandma is a survivor!....... *shrugs* some things are now important! #IDontGetTired #WhoDoYouLove #Se7enPounds"

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When Kaepernick was asked by reporters Thursday if the Bose competitor paid the fine on his behalf, he replied, "We'll let that be unanswered."

Per ESPN, the NFL doesn't allow fines to be paid by anyone but the person fined. They noted, however, it would be difficult for the competing product to give Kaepernick a bonus of some sort to make up for the expense.

The NFL defends its no-competition policy, with a spokesperson for the league telling re/code, "The NFL has longstanding policies that prohibit branded exposure on-field or during interviews unless authorized by the league. These policies date back to the early 1990s and continue today...They are the NFL's policies–not one of the league's sponsors, Bose in this case. Bose is not involved in the enforcement of our policies. This is true for others on-field."

A spokesperson for Beats weighed in as well, saying that athletes, like Kaepernick, "have written Beats into their DNA as part of the pre-game ritual."

"Music can have a significant positive effect on an athlete's focus and mental preparedness," added the spokesperson, "and has become as important to performance as any other piece of equipment."