The Fritz Pollard Alliance continues its push to remove racist language from pro football. On Monday, the group sent a letter to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash a letter asking that current rules be enforced to result in a 15-yard penalty or ejection for abusive language by players during games.
“[W]e believe that the League can address this concern by instructing Game Day officials to step up enforcement of Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(b) of the League’s Playing Rules, which prohibits the use of ‘abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, officials, teammates, or representatives of the League,’” attorney Cyrus Mehri (pictured) wrote in the letter to Pash. “Directing the ‘N’ word towards others in a place of work is abusive, threatening, and insulting. We believe the League should authorize Game Day officials to use graduated discipline with warnings, 15 yard penalties and ejections as appropriate.”
Mehri, who along with the late Johnnie Cochran was instrumental in the development of the Rooney Rule, pointed to last Sunday’s incident between Redskins tackle Trent Williams and umpire Roy Ellison.
“We believe that situation warranted a penalty, if not an ejection,” Mehri said. “In our view, if Game Day officials are empowered – and encouraged – to treat the use of racial epithets as grounds for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, future incidents of this nature are far less likely.”
The letter is a broader effort, spearheaded by John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, to remove the “N” word from football. While it’s unrealistic to believe that players won’t use it among themselves in jest, it makes sense to try to remove it from the field of play among men whose emotions may be getting the better of them.