After initially complying, Pittsburgh Steelers players ended up ignoring chairman Dan Rooney’s request to not use the “N-word” in the locker room.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark said on ESPN on Sunday that Rooney asked cornerback Ike Taylor to not play rap music that uses the “N-word” in the locker room and ask the players to not use the word.
“Mr. Rooney actually talked to Ike Taylor about it this season. Ike and Mr. Rooney have a very good relationship,” Clark said. “He told Ike, ‘I don’t want you guys using that word.'”
Clark said that Steelers players respect Rooney, for whom the “Rooney rule” that requires teams to interview a minority candidate before hiring a head coach is named, so much that they initially complied. The Steelers also have a black coach, Mike Tomlin, and Steelers players respect Rooney for treating Tomlin so well and giving him an opportunity to head one of pro football’s most storied organization that has won the most Super Bowls.
“Ike went around to specific people and said, ‘Listen, this is what Mr. Rooney told me.’ He’s the ambassador. We call him Old Man Rooney. He has a lot of respect, and because of the way he has treated us as players, as black athletes, also treated Coach Tomlin as a black coach, you know it’s coming from a place of love,” Clark said.
But Clark said the “culture” eventually came back, and that is why it will be difficult for the NFL to police the use of the “N-word” because it used so prevalently, especially among blacks.