Fritz Pollard Alliance lobbies for 15-yard penalty for racial epithets during games

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.

50 responses to “Fritz Pollard Alliance lobbies for 15-yard penalty for racial epithets during games

  1. They should start fining teams who don’t have exactly 14 white men, 4 Hispanic men, 3 black men, and 1 Asian man as their starting 22. Next year half of those men will have to be women.

  2. While I “get” that African Americans use the N-word themselves as ethnic lingo and assert that this, in turn, minimizes it’s ability to be used as a slur, in reality that hasn’t been the case.

    It’s only kept the word “alive” as a viable part of our lexicon – albeit one that one, and only one race can use without being deemed racist.

    My preference would be that EVERYONE, of every color, including African Americans, simply stop using that word, whether it be a joking disparaging remark to fellow African Americans, or as a racial slur.

    It has no place on the field or anywhere else – and the last thing we want Refs to have to do is determine when it’s being used as a slur, or when it’s being used as a more “brotherly” moniker by players, be they black, white, or Incognito.

  3. just what we need more pc police action. look this generation grew up with that word not meaning the same thing as previous generations. like it or not that is part of the culture and no amount re-education sensitivity training is going to change it. and like it or not that culture was marketed to white suburban kids so they are going to use it around their friends black or white without it meaning anything more to them than any other insult or cuss word you use around friends. you may not like it but you do not have the right to tell anybody what they can say or think dexpite what the pc police think.

  4. This is getting absolutely pathetic. Why don’t we just have robots play the games? Let’s get any kind of emotion or personality out of the sport.
    I’m not for racism, obviously, but who are these outside groups to tell NFL players how they can speak to each other on the playing field? All in the name of political correctness?
    It’s an absolute joke, and yet another sign that our society is deteriorating. You may not like that players speak this way, but is it personally affecting you? If not, please deal with the things that actually affect you before trying to impose your personal ethics on others. Thanks.

  5. What a waste….

    There’s more to worry about in the NFL than players using racial slurs…

    Maybe these giant men should start saying things like “My Daddy is bigger than your Daddy” and stick their tongues out!

    What is going on in America with these whiney people that are sooooo affected by words.. These are the same people who usually live in glass houses so they feel everyone should follow their view.. It’s just STUPID!

  6. I’m tired of the double standard in using the N word. The word itself is racist and so is the double standard.

  7. I love the idea of cleaning up the language for occupations that can set a standard of excellence that the masses take notice of! I’m all for cleaning up the game that has become very influential to the average American male who attends an NFL game. Now when fathers come to games with their son’s they can expect to hear on the field what they teach their sons at home; “treat people w/love & respect and they’ll return the same to you” Men set a high standard despite the few who may fall short, just keep setting it!

  8. … And, if people of any race want to talk to people of their race using slurs, foul language/profanity etc. then they should be allowed to do it (what happened to Freedom of Speech?).. I know it’s wrong for it to happen interacially but if the players themselves are ok with it, and use it to bond and build chemistry (I mean, we ARE talking about nothing more than a WORD! That word, or any other that can be construed as racial/profane etc, are still just that = WORDS! You give these words life and you can decide to not give it life and end it as well) then by all means let them do as they see fit! They aren’t running into the crowd and calling everyone racial names! They use it with each other and during competition, that doesn’t bother me at all.. There’s a ton of pressure on these guys, let’em talk..

    Is this about the N word or controlling players even more? It seems like when owners have things running smoothly they get bored so they start looking at ways to make sure their players “Know who the Boss is”.. (and please don’t say something like “Well it’s the media”.. Really? These Millionaires don’t have their greasy little tendrils in the media pie?) Stories have legs when someone’s agenda calls for it.. Someone w/money..

    If the NFL adopts this type of penalty system it will be approved by said owners.. Do the math..

  9. You wanna know what is good for society?– Saying “shut up!” to the moron who comes up with the latest Groupthink “solution” to the world’s problems.

  10. Language matters. How we use it matters. If you want to be treated with dignity and respect, you should conduct yourself with dignity and respect. So, if you are going to charge someone with racism for using a word, you should stop using it, too.

    Football games can, in fact, be played by people who choose to treat others with dignity and respect – while at the same time blocking and tackling.

  11. Oh, and if you don’t like what the players say just stop watching it… Pretty simple.. If you want them to change to better YOUR experience of the game it’s considered a selfish act on your end…

  12. This is horse crap, the field is sacred, whats said and done there is left there. If you don’t like it dont play, don’t watch, in fact leave our country.

    And I’m black and have been called every word in the book, Their only WORDS.

  13. “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”

    Shouldn’t this rule have gotten Brady a 15 yard penalty last night when the Patriots had to call a time out to keep Brady from murdering officials?

  14. Seeing 75% of the NFL is black I’m sure these things are handled in house if there is a real issue with racism . It seems like when ever an Incognito incident happens people that have nothing to do with football have to get involved . Nevermind the full truth hasn’t even been found out .

  15. I want to comment, then I don’t, then I do….

    This is nuts. Educate the offenders, yes. On a team by team basis during the normal spring league / team meetings that this word is offensive and shouldn’t be used. Not just on the field but in life.

    The NFL has wear pink day (whole damn month) for breast cancer, have a tolerance day if you want (but please not a month) and educate the people watching. It would go a lot farther to have respected athletes telling Americas youth to not use the word on TV then penalizing a whole team when one player in the heat of a game blurts it out.

  16. Ban the term “white boy”. Protect white players for once.

    Flag every black player that uses the “n” word, regardless of who he says it to.

  17. seriously? this type of stuff is the end of the NFL. stay away, we have enough penalties, enough booth time, enough breaks. NO. especially for PC garbage on a football field.

  18. baltimoresnativeson: “…don’t watch, don’t play, in fact leave our country.”

    Nope. I won’t leave. It’s my country, too. Here’s an idea: let’s make it better, you and I. How? Treat me with respect and I’ll treat you with respect. Then we can watch it and play it together, you and I, like adults. Seem reasonable?

  19. ENOUGH!

    I will stipulate that language used by football players and coaches is inappropriate. I’ve been there, heard it.

    However, it is not anything the referees, the NFL and their monitors need to be concerned. They’ve enough trouble officiating the games and applying the convoluted rules.


  20. Let’s require every player in the game and on the sidelines to wear an iPod with rap music so everyone can blame the music for slurs or bad language. That should satisfy the PC police.

  21. I can’t believe everyone isn’t on board with this…. Are you allowed to drop an “N Bomb” at your place of work?!?
    I really doubt it, even if you are African American, my guess is it would NOT be appropriate….. That word has NO PLACE in an NFL game, and I LOVE that idea!!!

  22. I don’t think if I call someone an N word at work that I would be put in timeout for 15 minutes.

    Can’t believe people think it’s their civil right to use that word.

    If they use it, kick em out of the game. That’ll put an end to it and i find it hard to believe DeMaurice Smith would object. That would be mighty white of him.

  23. the players should all wear bras! And instead of helmets, they should wear little tinfoil hats, ’cause, you know, it’s the future and we shouldn’t be so barbaric!

  24. In other words quit ruining the game and grow a pair. I take it that some of you have never played football. It gets pretty intense. No one says it’s right but it’s damn enjoyable to watch

  25. After watching and listening to Richard Sherman recently, I say let the kids say what they want. Have numerous players wired for sound and send a mix to the audio feed for a cable channel, along with comments from comedians/announcers in the manner of mystery science theater 3000. It would be hilarious.

  26. In other words, stop ruining the game with stupid rules. And if you haven’t ever played football as I suspect some of you haven’t…then just shut up

  27. While I am not a member of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, I sympaththize with their cause and understand their frustration.

    As a founding member and member of the board of directors for USPA (United Stupid People of America) we too have written to Mr. Pash and Mr. Goodell about another serious issue that is repeatedly happening in the NFL.

    We believe that the blak and white stripes donned by referrees are racially biased towards black and white Americans, and are exclusionary and insensitive to the many Asian, Latino and Native Americans that enjoy the sport.

    We have set forth a request that the NFL immediately and completely abolish the typical zebra uniform in favor of amore unified and inclusive “rainbow stripe” design.


    Reallyneed togetalife
    Vice President

  28. Now they’re going to be throwing flags for harsh language. What the NFL has become is truly disgusting.

  29. Is it just for when the word ends with “ER” or when it ends with “A” too? I’ve been told there’s a huge difference.

  30. Wow. This is a super slippery slope. All an official has to do is say someone said something. There doesn’t need to be corroboration, audio or any proof. Just his word that it happened. We’ve already seen that the officials use the same language in the past few weeks. This opens up a can of worms for even more possibility of fixing the game at a crucial point.

  31. Then you will have to flag 1/2 the Black players who use Racial terms. This is going too far with this Political Correctness. The Players, both white and black do not have a problem with this, why does this pencil-necked geek have a problem?

  32. With the NFL telling referees to use their mic’s to give detailed explanations of penalties, how’s that going to go: “No 32 of the defense called no. 18 of the offense a . . . “

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