Among those on the opposing end is Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who labeled the concept as “an atrocious idea.”
“It’s almost racist, to me,” the athlete told MMQB’s Peter King. “It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”
To emphasize his point, Sherman hit on the spelling of the n-word, which carries two different meanings when used. The football star stated that the n-word ending in “-er” is racist, as opposed to the n-word ending in “-a,” which is not, when used among African-American players.
“It’s in the locker room and on the field at all times,” he said. “I hear it almost every series out there on the field.”
Citing the fact that the n-word is used often among friends, Jason McCourty believes the NFL may be taking on something that’s more challenging than it seems.
“It’s a common word in so many players’ everyday lives,” the Tennessee Titans cornerback said. “Among African-American players and people, it’s used among friends all the time. It seems like a bit much for the NFL to try to get rid of it. It’s a pretty common word in the locker room, like ‘man,’ ‘bro,’ ‘nigga.’ But once a white person says it, it’s a derogatory term.”
“Ultimately, if the NFL can get it done, it’s great for our game,” D’Qwell Jackson, a free agent linebacker, stated to King . But I think refs have a hard enough time officiating the game now. Now they’d be asked to police language?”
One reliable league source told me the biggest problem he saw is that very often during scrums, name-calling and foul language are exchanged by a group of players. What happens if an official thinks he heard the n-word from one player and it actually was another? The referee could call the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty/language foul, and if the offending player is white, it’s going to scar him for his career. What if the call is made on the wrong player?
Since news broke about the proposed n-word, the issue has become a hot topic among players and sports fans. According to King, a rule already exists that allows an official to throw a flag for taunting and/or excessive foul language. As for the n-word ban, he reports that the outcome of the debate won’t be made known until the owners meet with the eight-man Competition Committee beginning March 23.
The committee, he says, is not a legislative body, but rather a group that recommends new rules, which the owners vote on them.
For more of King’s analysis on the NFL’s proposed n-word ban, click here.