Feb 3, 2014; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the winning team press conference the day after Super Bowl XLVIII at Sheraton New York Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The “N” Word And The NFL


It’s been a few days since the news broke that league’s competition committee is contemplating a policy of penalizing a player 15 yards for using discriminatory language on the field, most notably a racial slur used against African-Americans. I am sure the goal is to tweak the rule to include all racial and derogatory slurs. But they cannot stop there, they would have to include any offensive slur; particularly homophobic slurs or comments.

The “N” word seems to be the one word that is getting the most mileage in this conversation. My experience of that word is it is a very hateful word. Being a parent to a biracial son, half white and half black, I know he will more often than not be considered a black kid. I don’t have a problem with that because I know how the world works. What I will have a problem with is when he comes home and ask me what the “N” word means because someone called him that. I know it will happen and I dread that day. But it can sometimes even be a term of endearment to each other among the African American community. I am not sure how that is possible but it is. Being a white guy I know I won’t be able to understand it.

But therein lies a conundrum doesn’t it? Can you completely eradicate it from the game? Or do you just penalize when it is used as a derogatory term? How do you tell and who decides if it is or not? How can the NFL dictate how people speak to each other? That is a tough question to answer and I am glad I do not have that responsibility.

But for the sake of argument let’s assume the competition committee figures that out and decide to enforce penalties. Personally, I think a 15 yard penalty is a cop-out. How is a 15 yard penalty a deterrent for that? If it were a deterrent there would be no more unsportsmanlike-like conduct penalties. That incurs a similar 15 yard penalty and in many games each day there are a few committed. It may have reduced the instances but it will not take it out of the game.

But if a stiffer penalty were imposed it may have a more effective outcome. Maybe a two or three game suspension and a fine at a minimum. My personal opinion is there is no place for any derogatory slur. Be it racial or homophobic. I think the NFL has the right idea but they need to make the penalty mean something. A 15 yard penalty is a joke.

What do you think?

Here is today’s poll question.

Is a 15 yard penalty enough of a deterrent for a racial slur?

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