By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
9:10 AM EST, February 23, 2014
The NFL is considering adopting a rule where players would be penalized for using language that crosses the line.
Specifically, the language initiative would penalize players to get them to stop using the N word on the field. A 15-yard penalty would likely be the punishment for a first offense and an ejection for someone who does it twice in a game.
John Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that promotes diversity for NFL job searches, has been advocating for the rule to be added.
The NFL competition committee discussed it here at the NFL scouting combine. Like any proposed rule change, it would have to be presented to the NFL owners and then voted on.
"We did talk about it, I'm sure that you saw near the end of the year that Fritz Pollard came out very strong with the message that the league needs to do something about the language on the field," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who is on the league's competition committee. "So we did discuss over the last three days. I don't want to get in from of what the competition committee talked about, but we did talk about race and gender."
The NFL also wants players to not use homophobic slurs. This proposal comes at a time where the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal shined a light on racial slurs, homophobic language and disrespectful talk toward women. Plus, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is entering the league as its first openly gay player.
The competition committee has another series of meetings next week in Naples, Fla., before coming to a decision on what rule change proposals will be presented to the owners next month in Orlando, Fla. For a rule to pass, it requires 24 of the 32 owners to vote in favor of a proposal.
"We will now go down to Naples starting next Friday and spend more time talking about it,'' Newsome said. "We had some officials in our meeting that actually out there on the field and hear the language. We'll be able to put all that together and if there's a need to we will present something to our owners in Orlando.
"With any rule that we put into play we have to look at it from A to Z and find out any unintended consequences as much as the consequences. So, as it was stated in our meeting, there are mics everywhere, so if something has been said it's probably going to be captured somewhere. So there will be an opportunity to get it verified if we have to."
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