Among the Jaguars who lost their cool (in addition to a game, but that’s no longer news) Sunday was Marqise Lee.
And the wide receiver said his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty came from directing the N-word at the Raiders, saying he was responding to their use of it as well.
“It was back and forth,” Lee said, via Mike DiRocco of ESPN.com. “In the midst of the game, emotion is going from both teams. It just so happened the ref heard me, so therefore I got the flag. I’ve got to fess up to it.”
Lee wouldn’t identify the Raiders players who used the slur which triggered his response. He said there was no ill will toward the players, and his emotions simply got the better of him. But he also thought he shouldn’t have been flagged for a word, no matter how offensive it might be.
“Throughout the whole game we had a lot of players saying a lot of different things, but that’s just the midst of the game,” Lee said. “It’s kind of hard when you have refs out there trying to limit what people say when you’ve got grown men hitting each other. You’ve got a lot of things that’s going on that’s flaring as far as in your mind. These 42 [teammates] know as far as the things I said, it wasn’t intentional at all.
“I know he [the Raiders player he used the slur against] woke up the next day not worrying about it at all just like I woke up no worrying about it. I feel like you’re going to always have that issue because you’re going to always have situations where [emotions] flame up and both teams are going back and forth and things are going to get said regardless of if the ref likes it or not.”
The league has been cracking down on abusive language on the field since 2014, and Lee will be fined later this week. The idea to institute a rule banning a specific word as part of a broader rule was generally accepted as a decent idea, though some players thought it was a ridiculous attempt.