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Clay Matthews believes it’ll be hard to police on-field language


It’s one thing for the NFL to say that it wants to take the N-word off the playing field.  It’s quite another for the NFL to actually accomplish that feat.

“I think it’s used as a term of endearment between players, and I think it’s so much a part of pop culture and culture in general that it’s going to be very hard to eliminate that from the game,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews told Dan Patrick on Tuesday.  “I think is more something that should come from the locker room, organization, and team leaders to remove it if they see fit.

“This is an emotional game played by tough men who obviously are a little crazy in doing so,” Matthews said.  “I think this is going to be a very fine line as far as where this stops, when you start eliminating language from play. . . .  It’ll be very difficult.”

The desire to eliminate racial slurs raises a variety of practical concerns, too.  How will the officials know for sure that the N-word or some other word was said?  How will they know whether it was used as a term of endearment or as an insult?

The bigger concern is philosophical.  Does attaching a 15-yard penalty to the use of a racial slur like the N-word honor those who have been victimized by the hate contained in it over the years, or does it trivialize the issue by converting it into football’s equivalent of a parking ticket?

While the goal of eradicating improper language from the field of play is honorable, we’re not sure that attaching a tangible football consequence to the decision of an adult male to speak improperly is the right way to address the problem.

It’s also not a very good idea to give the officials yet another way that judgment can be exercised in a way that potentially affects the outcome of a game.  In the playoff game between the 49ers and Panthers, a Carolina player was called for an obvious head butt — and at least one 49ers player performed the same act and got away with it.

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70 Responses to “Clay Matthews believes it’ll be hard to police on-field language”
  1. skullpatrolsilvernblack says: Feb 25, 2014 1:05 PM

    He’s right, how are the refs really going to be the language police now? Where are all the Goodell supporters that say he isn’t going too far?

  2. beach305 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:07 PM

    The lagacy of j. Martin

  3. packfntk says: Feb 25, 2014 1:07 PM

    They will never be able to police it, and they shouldn’t. And if they do, it better be held to the standard for all races.

  4. jdphx says: Feb 25, 2014 1:09 PM

    And the idiocy continues…

    That was a very nice tackle Mr. Matthews… I really
    might have an owie after that… How is the family…
    the wife and kids… ok, see you next play… good luck..

  5. discountdoublecheck says: Feb 25, 2014 1:09 PM

    Couldn’t agree more Clay. Well said, and your hair is beautiful.

  6. ingraven says: Feb 25, 2014 1:09 PM

    Stupid Rule. Stupid Word.

  7. jeremy1117 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:13 PM

    Foul-mouthed offensive players will love playing in Seattle.

  8. realnflmaster says: Feb 25, 2014 1:14 PM

    What I want to know is why is it only one word? What makes that word more important and inflammatory than all the other slurs out there?

    And for the record, the word they are trying to police isn’t even the same word that was disgustingly used in the past.

    This is a fail on so many levels it’s embarrassing.

  9. klutch14u says: Feb 25, 2014 1:14 PM

    Jonathan Martin decided to make a big stink about such things and this is the fallout. They are doing it because some other player is going to decide to sue for this stuff and they are trying to minimize what’s coming. Just like concussion lawsuits.

    Honestly with the way corporations are now with this stuff I’m surprised it’s taken it this long to creep into football. You can’t even hardly talk to co-workers these days.

  10. herrcules13 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:14 PM

    And how are the officials going to be penalized for using the word in an offensive manner? Why isn’t anyone bringing this question up?!?

  11. kudzuwish says: Feb 25, 2014 1:15 PM

    The NFL does not need more judgement calls by the officials. They blow so many calls during games already, and this would give them even more opportunities to screw things up. Can we let football players play football?

  12. youvebeenphaneufed says: Feb 25, 2014 1:15 PM

    Just as stupid a rule as the NCAA making offenses wait 10 seconds before snapping the ball.

  13. maestro71 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:16 PM

    I really despise Roger Goodell.

  14. 4allintensivepurposes says: Feb 25, 2014 1:16 PM

    “Hurtful words, defense….number 52. That’s a fifteen yard penalty. Automatic…first down.”

  15. jayzus says: Feb 25, 2014 1:16 PM

    in other news: the earth is round

  16. kabasaman says: Feb 25, 2014 1:18 PM

    What next? Players aren’t allowed to get pissed off? Yea, right…..

  17. trollsetter says: Feb 25, 2014 1:18 PM

    He also thinks it will be hard to play more than 6 games next year.

  18. kehav1 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:19 PM

    as a minority(not white)…I do agree..these folks, mostly african americans are so used to the N-word that its almost like second nature and is blurted out by mistake…either NFL will enforce it strictly and players will be getting fines/penalties left and right or it will be weakly enforced and not worth it..

  19. fwippel says: Feb 25, 2014 1:19 PM

    Clay Matthews is right.

  20. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 25, 2014 1:20 PM

    Doesn’t everybody have confidence in the 44.2 million dollar man? Everything will be clear skies on all issues after a few more of those pops. Trust the man that is “worth” so much.

    Also they should figure out how to deal with and monitor current penalties properly before inventing new ones. The NFL needs to get its act together before it asks others to do so.

  21. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 25, 2014 1:21 PM

    Spoken like a true leader of a 8-7-1 team.

  22. russellwilsonismymvp says: Feb 25, 2014 1:22 PM

    Absolutely 100% agree with Matthews. If the NFL wants to get all PC correct, they could start with a certain franchise’s logo and name. Elephant in the room, Mr. Goodell.

  23. kd75 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:24 PM

    So if a CB gets beat for a 60 yard TD, scream the N-word and get just a 15 yard penalty.

  24. nite2al says: Feb 25, 2014 1:25 PM

    Now, Riley Cooper is really upset!

  25. ariani1985 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:25 PM

    Won’t be hard for you fabio, you know it’s legal to play in 16 games a year?


  26. krycek84 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:27 PM

    Redskins seems to become a racial slur, gonna be a lot of flags at Washington games…

  27. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 25, 2014 1:28 PM

    Call me the fixer:
    put a small mic on every player, record them, issue language fines on Tuesdays. Done.

  28. theageofquarrel says: Feb 25, 2014 1:28 PM

    Made Of Clay Matthews stinks

  29. thevikesarebest says: Feb 25, 2014 1:28 PM

    The packers….lol.just saying their name makes me laugh.#joke

  30. weepingjebus says: Feb 25, 2014 1:29 PM

    Unenforceable silliness that smacks of a PR move by the league. The starters out on the field usually make more in a few years than the rest of us will see in our lifetimes, they can call each other whatever they want.

  31. luckydog46 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:29 PM

    Tea and crumpets anyone?

  32. steelnucs says: Feb 25, 2014 1:39 PM

    I am going to go out on a ledge here and assume that the N word calling happens between black guys, that no white player in his right mind would use that word on the field or we would have heard about it. So, the penalties for this horrendous offense would be called only on black guys. Eventually this will be seen as racist in itself and the rule will be phased out.

    End of problem…..

  33. grandpoopah says: Feb 25, 2014 1:41 PM

    Actually, I think it will be pretty easy to police. The refs will just throw a flag on every single down.

  34. jbaxt says: Feb 25, 2014 1:42 PM

    Finally, white guys can say it now, and the only punishment is 15 yards. Finally, whites will be on a level playing field for derogatory terms. Usually the white guy is made out to be a clan member and a black who says it is just a brotha, no harm no foul.

  35. shlort says: Feb 25, 2014 1:45 PM

    The NFL thinks they have a finger on the pulse of the fans. The uproar over the Redskins name and the uproar over the Martin/Cognito situation has the NFL thinking the fans want the game changed/sissified. The NFL pays close attention and it is what it is. Society is being liberalized through various sources and the NFL thinks the game must change to meet a changing pattern in people who watch it.

  36. jimmyt says: Feb 25, 2014 1:47 PM

    Maybe someday all of this insane “don’t say anything that could offend anyone” hysteria will lead us back to the good old days of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.

  37. thefiesty1 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:48 PM

    That sort of on the field language started for most of these guys in junior high school. It’s ingrained into the culture. Is it right, No. But a 15 yard penalty isn’t going to change anything other than making the players more angry.

  38. shaggytoodle says: Feb 25, 2014 1:49 PM

    He was mic’ed up once and I remember him chasing Vick down.

    He got up and said, You didn’t know a white boy could run like that.

    Is that going to be a 15 yrd penalty?

  39. kneelbeforesod says: Feb 25, 2014 1:49 PM

    “F-word” takes on a whole new meaning, when applied to professional athletes.

    Good luck trying to decipher between what’s actually vulgar and what’s (comically) mispronounced.

  40. chris6523 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:50 PM

    And just wait for a white to get called for this penalty. All the race baiter usual suspects will demand the dude be suspended. That’ll be real fun.

  41. terminatahx says: Feb 25, 2014 1:57 PM

    Enough already! Please tell the Commish to take his hands out of the NFL cookie jar! Every year, there are more rules that are more about marketing and appeasing the mainstream casual agenda-driven fan than real fans that love the NFL. I’m black, but I don’t care if two athletes are jawing and call each other names. Words have context, we all learned that in grade school.

    If you are gonna censor speech, then you have to do it with ALL slurs, epithets and names that are considered “hurtful”. When you do that, players will basically have virtually nothing they can say without sanction.

  42. dalcow4 says: Feb 25, 2014 1:58 PM

    Hard? Try impossible.

    In an era of idiotic rules and laws, this one ranks pretty high. What are you going to do– allow certain races to say certain things while other races get flagged for saying those exact things? A Rooney Rule for who can say what?

    Great example of leftist lunacy, though. It always works this way– 1-Create a problem or issue. 2- come up with some red tape solution 3-without understanding the ramifications of such solution and how it will work in the real world.

  43. filthymcnasty1 says: Feb 25, 2014 2:02 PM

    And just how are they supposed to keep Viking players from looking at the scoreboard and letting loose with profanity laced tirades?

  44. 6kings says: Feb 25, 2014 2:04 PM

    I like the idea. Let the play do the talking. Get that crap off the field.

  45. baltimoresnativeson says: Feb 25, 2014 2:15 PM

    I miss the pre-Goodell NFL.

  46. wfederal says: Feb 25, 2014 2:19 PM

    “In the playoff game between the 49ers and Panthers, a Carolina player was called for an obvious head butt — and at least one 49ers player performed the same act and got away with it.”

    Thank You! Glad I’m not the only one that still finds that game to be absurd…

  47. jetmetfan says: Feb 25, 2014 2:26 PM

    He’s wrong. It can be done and I agree it should be applied to all racial slurs. The officials won’t catch all of them but if the catch a few and enforce the penalty players will get the message.

    I’m a HS basketball official in NYC. Four years ago the public schools adopted a no tolerance policy towards swearing. When enforcing it we include racial slurs. If a player or coach swears or uses a slur – no matter how it’s used – they pick up a technical foul assuming we know who said it. Many people thought it wasn’t enforceable. I called about a dozen the first year and I know other officials called it as well. Over time the need to make those calls has dropped because the players police themselves. They know there’s a choice: clean up the language or sit. I would think adults in their work place could do the same thing. If you can’t go 3 1/2 hours without saying a racial slur that’s a problem.

  48. idoubtiwillbother says: Feb 25, 2014 2:29 PM

    Can’t ban words. Can only take advantage of opportunities to refute stupid ideas.

  49. magbastard says: Feb 25, 2014 2:32 PM

    Oh man, Hockuli is going to love this! Cash money says he’s the first ref to flag it, and get all sorts of attention for it. Yup, book it.

  50. whentheleveonbreaks says: Feb 25, 2014 2:48 PM

    Bye bye first amendment and the NFL. Hello flag football and duct tape.

  51. petedutcherjr says: Feb 25, 2014 3:02 PM

    I’m all for removing the “n-word” from the english language.

    But while we are at it, how about we remove swear words as well? I am sick and tired of kids learning how to cuss from kids programming.

  52. GenXJay says: Feb 25, 2014 3:11 PM

    Rightfully, this article paints Clay as the FatHead® Tattle-tail.

  53. missingsock215 says: Feb 25, 2014 3:25 PM

    I hear more slurs from the crowd at a baseball game when I watch then I do from watching a football game.

  54. axespray says: Feb 25, 2014 3:49 PM

    A game that causes fat out of shape guys to yell profanities at their TVs…

    Imagine what the jacked up psychos that play this game are saying every play….

    It’ll be penalty city.

  55. allseeingone says: Feb 25, 2014 3:56 PM

    If that rule is passed then the players should protest by meeting at the 50 yard line before every game and calling each other that word at the same time. Make it a tradition. A big middle finger to the morons who passed it.

  56. octom says: Feb 25, 2014 4:00 PM

    What if the exchange with the forbidden word takes place between teammates – add another 15 yards on?

  57. cfeeley52 says: Feb 25, 2014 4:05 PM

    Does this mean “redskin” is now illegal to say on the field???

  58. melikefootball says: Feb 25, 2014 4:16 PM

    As we have observed year in and year out the officials have a hard enough time calling the game from week to week, with no consistency. Now they are going to have to make decisions on what they think they hear on the field. It is a shame that a game that HAS been so much fun to watch has under God-del become less and less enjoyable.

  59. vavikingfan says: Feb 25, 2014 4:23 PM

    The most idiotic rule ever.

  60. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 25, 2014 4:23 PM

    So, the NFL has decided to begin policing on-field profanity and assess penalties for the scofflaws.

    Am I the only one who finds this whole fiasco-waiting-to-happen hilarious?

  61. packmanfan says: Feb 25, 2014 4:25 PM

    I’m against the N-word too.
    But if we don’t hear it, then what’s the big deal?
    If it’s only staying down there on the football field and players who are used to it are sharing it among themselves, so what?
    Ignorance is bliss.

  62. leatherface2012 says: Feb 25, 2014 4:44 PM

    SAYs the guy who is only “on the field” 7 games a year

  63. stellarperformance says: Feb 25, 2014 4:46 PM

    It’s about respect for your fellow man. No workplace should condone any behavior that personally intimidates, harrasses, or belittles. The persons that insist on doing it are the same people that were conmfortable as school bus bullies when they were kids. Grow up for crying out loud. There is no place for it. It’s not about being “tough.” It’s a man’s game. Act like one.

  64. JSpicoli says: Feb 25, 2014 4:58 PM

    Wait until they police the street language, and at home.

    Laugh now

  65. lifeimitatesfootball says: Feb 25, 2014 5:12 PM

    Might as well have recorders in all helmets near the mouth so officials can flag any player using N word…NFL will start on Dolphins players helmets…I mean after all Goodell has to find a way to keep good players off the Dolphins and make good players they have want to leave…that’s what the Dolphins get for being the only UNDEFEATED team in NFL history. They must suck from here on in until the US economic collapse kills the NFL too. Jonathan Martin’s ultimate conspiracy against his former team.

  66. taylormade311 says: Feb 25, 2014 5:25 PM

    Ninja, the new word of choice.

  67. easyeddie says: Feb 25, 2014 5:36 PM

    I’d like just one of the liberal do-gooders here to publicly accept that most all the n-word utterances on the field are made by African American players towards other African Americans. Just another leftist tempest in a teapot – all facts and logic-free.

  68. cobaltdriver says: Feb 25, 2014 5:47 PM

    I see school is still off in Minnesota,with so many things to do,you d think the children would find something better than trolling on articles with the words Green Bay in them.

  69. oxnard4 says: Feb 25, 2014 6:30 PM

    Wake me when the NFL becomes the NFL.

  70. autumnwind67 says: Feb 26, 2014 3:36 AM

    Hey, I watch my language around my 5 year olds, I watch my language at work, I think these guys can watch their language at work too…. The players often complain about fans language …. Lets get with the times and show respect!!!

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