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NFL Racial Slurs: N-Word Could Soon Be a 15-yard Penalty in the NFL

NFL Racial Slurs: Fallout from the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin fiasco could manifest in a new penalty during play–a game-changing 15 yard one at that.



The world is changing. No longer is it considered acceptable to say certain things to or about certain people. An argument could be made that it has never been ‘acceptable’ of course, but that doing so has never been so openly opposed to as it is in the world today. As a result, workplace rules are becoming more stringent and people are being forced to clean up their act–whether they mean it in jest, malice, or as a sign of familiarity.

It appears that some of these changes could even be coming to the NFL.

When the league’s competition committee meets it is expected to seriously consider approving a new penalty for players that use the N-word on the field. A first offense will warrant a 15-yard penalty and a second an ejection.

“I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we’re trying to do,” John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors diversity in the NFL, said (via CBS Sports). “We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room. Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere.”

The NFL has not made any official comment on penalizing player for using any racial slur, but it does have plans to discuss devising a set of rules in regards to workplace conduct.  Ask any person that has ever played organized sports in high school, college, or on a professional level and they will tell you that a locker room is like no place you will ever ‘work.’ It’s a place where players can be who they are or want to be whether that’s the quiet guy that sits in the corner and listens to music before practice or the crude, vulgar type that tells one raunchy joke after another (and every type or personality in between).

Individual teams have been left to police their own locker rooms in the past which meant that the players were pretty much left to police themselves. Some would say that is how it should be, but the Martin/Incognito fiasco has shown that it is time for their to be at least some kind of guideline.

Should that include conduct on the field? That will be for the NFL to decide and as nice as the idea is erasing the n-word and/or any other racial slur is going to be quite difficult. Will the league differentiate between malicious intent and familiarity? Will black players be allowed to use certain words and white players not?

How will the NFL enforce the rule? Will everyone have to be mic’d up? Every time a players get called he is going to claim he didn’t say it so how can it be proven? Do we want to affect the outcome of a game because someone said an offensive word more than once?

Will words that reference sexual preference be included?

Who knows, but when the Competition Committee meets it will be interesting to see what happens.

About Travis Pulver

  • Jordan Boudway

    couldn’t this already be considered unsportsmanlike conduct?