The NFL is outlining a new “zero tolerance” policy for badmouthing, verbal abuse, and racial and homophobic slurs from players and coaches on the field, in the locker room, and in other NFL facilities.
In a new video, Dean Blandino, the league’s VP of officiating, affirmed the plans, saying that “there will be zero tolerance for unsportsmanlike conduct, particularly verbal abuse directed at an opponent.”
The video is being shown to players as they begin to attend summer training camps.
“The use of abusive, threatening or insulting language directed at opponents, teammates, game officials or representatives of the league is covered under unsportsmanlike conduct in the playing rules,” a narrator says during the video. “This includes racial slurs, comments regarding sexual orientation or other verbal abuse. Actions such as these will result in 15-yard penalties and potential discipline. Coaches, game officials and other league personnel will be held to the same high standard.”
The league says that a 15-yard penalty will be assessed for infractions and incidents might also lead to additional disciplinary action.
The NFL had announced months ago that it was re-evaluating its rules of conduct as sports media have increasingly focused on social issues in sports. The move comes on the heels of the drafting of the first openly gay player, Michael Sam. The new rules were also inspired by several other incidents such as last year’s accusation by referee Roy Ellison that Redskins tackle Trent Williams barked a slur at him during a game and most glaringly the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.
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