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.

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

  1. 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..

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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..

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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…..

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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”.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. “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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. “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…

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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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