The NFL’s competition committee won’t create a new rule to weed out uses of the n-word and other abusive language from the field. Instead, referees will rely on an existing rule to clean up the nasty talk.
“We do have a section of the book that deals with sportsmanship and addresses the use of abusive or threatening or insulting language, it emphasizes it can be a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct,” Atlanta Falcons president Adam McKay said on a conference call. “It’s right in the rule as it’s written today — rule 12, section 3, article 1B — and we emphasize that we empower a foul to be called for that type of language.”
Visions of white referees flagging black players for use of the racist slur has set off a spirited debate within the league. “If you look at it, the only people who say the N-word on the football field are African-Americans,” Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin opined. “Whether whoever wants to agree with it or not, we have turned it kind of into a term of endearment.” Teammate Richard Sherman called the proposal “atrocious” and “almost racist.”
“I find it very disheartening that in our society today we’re having a debate about the n-words being used as a term of endearment,” Hall of Famer Harry Carson told MMQB’s Peter King. “If that’s a term of endearment, go up to your grandfather, or an elderly black person, and use it on them. See how they react. For those who use it, I say they have no sense of history.”