NFL Expected to Create 15-Yard Penalty for Use of Racial Slur

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2014

USA Today

The NFL will soon decide whether to implement a rule next season that will penalize players 15 yards for the use of racial slurs on the field.  

Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman and former NFL offensive lineman John Wooten said he would be surprised if the league doesn't support the measures it's trying to take to clean up the racially charged language, based on a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:

I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we're trying to do. We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room. Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere.

The report states the hope from the Alliance, which is dedicated to promoting diversity within the league, is that the first infraction will result in a penalty, and a second infraction would lead to an immediate ejection. The suggestion is currently in the hands of the competition committee.

ESPN passed along comments from Baltimore Ravens general manager and committee member Ozzie Newsome. He confirmed that discussions about the issue have taken place and have involved officials who understand what happens on the field during an intense game.

Newsome said the committee will continue talking about the proposal and then decide if it should be included in the suggestions sent to the league's owners:

We will now go down to Naples starting next Friday and spend more time talking about it. We had some officials in our meeting that actually out there on the field and hear the language. We'll be able to put all that together and if there's a need to we will present something to our owners in Orlando.

He also noted that it's standard procedure for different proposals to go through the process. The committee must make sure there won't be any unintended consequences when it comes to enforcing the rule before officially sending it to the owners.

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, who's spent a decade in the league battling in the trenches, clearly doesn't think it's going to work. He posted the following message on Instagram alongside a photo about the proposed rule:

Good luck with this,,,, and I wonder who came up with this anyway.... I use that C word though.. and anybody that know me know what it is..

Moving forward, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the NFL enforce some type of rule about racial slurs starting next season. The league is always trying to improve its image, and with microphones and video all over the field these days, insensitive remarks do sometimes make it on the air.

That said, making the second infraction an automatic ejection certainly seems a bit on the harsh side. When players get caught up in the heat of the moment, they don't always think twice about their trash talk. So the rule might need some alterations before being sent to the owners.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance seems ready to push hard for change until a decision is made.