NFL Considers Penalizing Players Who Use The ‘N-Word’ on Field

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Steelers' Ryan Clark.
Steelers’ Ryan Clark.

The NFL’s competition committee plans to considers a rule that would penalize players for using the N-word on the field, a hallmark effort against use of the vile racial term. Actually policing it will be another matter, according to Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I think it’s going to be really tough to legislate this rule, to find a way to penalize everyone who uses this word,” Clark said on an ESPN “Outside The Lines” special report.  “And it’s not going to be white players using it toward Black players. Most of the time you hear it, it’s Black players using the word.”

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity in the NFL, said he expects the league to establish a rule that would call for a 15-yard penalty for players who use the N-word on the field. John Wooten, the head of the alliance, said the competition committee will enact the rule at the owners’ meeting in late March.

“I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we’re trying to do,” Wooten said, according to CBSSports.com.

Clark said Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney made efforts to have the word eliminated from use within his team.

“Mr. Rooney actually talked to Ike Taylor about it this season,” Clark told ESPN. “Ike and Mr. Rooney have a very good relationship. He told Ike, ‘I don’t want you guys using that word.’

“Ike went around to specific people and said, ‘Listen, this is what Mr. Rooney told me,'” Clark continued.
“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 (Mike) Tomlin as a Black coach, you know it’s coming from a place of love.

“(Rooney) said, ‘I don’t want you guys listening to that music. I don’t want you guys using that word.’ And his reason behind it was that people fought against people using that word. People felt like that word was demeaning. There were terrible acts done by men using that word and by people using that word.”

Clark said that Taylor had the music shut off because of Rooney. “Guys accepted it,” Clark said. ” It wasn’t like that you stopped hearing the music totally. You stopped hearing it that day. But it came back. That’s the culture. That’s what these guys have grown up with.”

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