NFL expected to penalize players for using N-word on the field

Allison Joyce

A rule change could impose a 15-yard penalty for players who use the racial slur on the field.

The NFL competition committee is expected to approve a rule at the league meetings in March that would penalize players who use the N-word on the field, according to a Saturday report from the Associated Press.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity in the NFL, told the media that it expects the rule change to levy a 15-yard penalty for players overheard using the word on the field.

Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome also mentioned the rule change at his Saturday press conference in Indianapolis at the Combine.

John Wooten, head of the Alliance, explained the thinking behind the rule change to CBS Sports:

"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.

"Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere."

The league has undertaken greater efforts to promote a more tolerate workplace in the wake of several incidents, including teams asking players at last year's Combine about their sexual orientation.

Newsome elaborated on the process:

"If there's a need to, we'll present something to our owners in Orlando."

"With any rule we put into play, we have to look at it A-Z and what are the unintended consequences as well as the consequences. But as it was stated in our meeting, there are mics everywhere. If something's being said, it's captured somewhere. It would be an opportunity to get it verified if we had to."

Penalizing players for using a racial slur in the workplace is one step toward progress, but like most of the NFL's efforts at promoting tolerance, it's haphazard. What about other racist or homophobic slurs that might slide out of a player's mouth during a game? There's also the matter of implementation and interpretation, which left in the hands of officials could lead to the penalty being called differently from week to week and crew to crew.

And what about off the field, in places like a locker room, where the league is still reeling from the revelations about what happened in Miami with Richie Incognito and others, including a coach and a trainer, harassing Jonathan Martin and other players?

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.

More from SBNation.com

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.