NFL Considering Punishment For Players Who Use Slurs

The league could institute a rule where players would be penalized 15 yards for using the n-word or other slurs during a game.
Posted at 7:54 PM, Feb 22, 2014

If a player grabs another player's face mask in an NFL game, that's a 15-yard penalty. Now, the NFL is considering assessing that same penalty for players who use the n-word in a game. 

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that promotes diversity and equality in the NFL, said during a combine event Friday he expects the NFL to enact the rule at the owner's meeting next month; 15 yards for the n-word and an ejection after the second infraction. (Via The Plain Dealer)

According to CBS, Wooten said, "I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we're trying to do. ... We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room."

Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, who is a part of the NFL Competition Committee, confirmed at a press conference Saturday he and other NFL officials had discussed implementing the rule. Newsome added that other slurs could be included. (Via NFL)

Talk of this new rule comes on the heels of the Ted Wells report, which detailed misconduct in the Miami Dolphins locker room. 

That 144-page report, which was released earlier this month, mentions the n-word almost 50 times. Perhaps the main offender in the report is former Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito, a white guy, who used the word when referring to his black teammate, Jonathan Martin. (Via Fox Sports, NBC / "Today")

Incognito isn't the only white NFL player who has been publicly criticized for using the n-word. Former Philadelphia Eagles wideout Riley Cooper caught some flack after a video surfaced of him using the epithet at a concert. (Via YouTube / CrossingBroad)

Although those instances took place off the field, a writer for Sporting News says it's time for the NFL to clean up its act. 

"​Trash talking on the field is fine, but it's still no place to target an opponent's ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. It should be a rule welcomed by everyone in the league."

But a few sports writers see implementing such a rule as problematic: "Would the NFL provide every player, coach and official with a list of words that can’t be used? And who would determine which words make the list?" (Via NBC Sports)

That same writer takes it a step further thinking of instances where black players might use the n-word among themselves. Would they be penalized? And what about the Washington team name "Redskins"? He says some people consider that to be a racial slur also. 

A writer for SB Nation says, "The NFL desperately needs to establish a clear and comprehensive code of workplace conduct, for both on and off the field, instead of reacting to incidents as they happen with a bevy of memos and piecemeal measures."

According to Fox Sports, the NFL Competition Committee will rule on the proposal in March. If it passes, it'll be presented to league owners.