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Use of ‘N-Word’ Set to be a Penalty Next NFL Season

It’s already official: NFL players’ use of the ‘N-word’ racial slur will result in a plenty, despite many players’ concerns that monitoring such language would be hard to enforce.

In a conference call where it was announced that a discussion of expanding the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams is also on the agenda for the league meetings next week, the committee’s co-chairmen–Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay and St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher — said enforcing the rule will be a “major point of emphasis” in the coming season and a flag would result in a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“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,” McKay said. “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.”

“We have the current rule,” Fisher said. “The N-word would fall under that category, the officials will be empowered to call a foul if there’s racial slurs or statements about players’ sexual orientation or even baiting the official in verbal abuse, falls under and … it’s going to be a very significant point of emphasis.”

McKay and Fisher said there is a significant portion of the competition committee’s report, which will be distributed to the team owners Monday, dedicated to sportsmanship. McKay said there were nine penalties called for taunting in the 2012 season, but the total increased to 34 last season.

McKay said when officials meet with players during the preseason, it will be clearly explained how it will be enforced.

“We’re going beyond the field of play, we’re going to the workplace, we’re going to respect to this game,” Fisher said. “There’s going to be numerous discussions with respect to the topic and we’re going to move forward.”

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