Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The NFL's Nutty Proposed N-Word Penalty

Picture this during some NFL game next season

A defensive end is trash-talking to an enemy lineman after a play. "I took your Momma and your sister home last night and had a threesome with those crazy bitches." Or after being tackled by a corner back, a wide receiver chides him, "You hit like a faggot." Or one black player celebrates with a black colleague after making a critical sack just outside their own goal line. "Great work, nigger, great work!"

A ref hears all these dialogues. As nasty and vicious as they are, he's indifferent to the first two, but tosses a penalty flag at the black player for using the n-word during that friendly celebration, negating the sack and putting their team in a deeper hole.

What the hell!

Sounds insane but it could happen. The NFL competition committee, under pressure by a black organization, the Fritz Pollard Alliance, is considering a rule that will be presented for confirmation at the owners' meeting next month. There would be a fifteen-yard penalty against a player using the n-word on the field for the first time in a game. For the second offense, the player would be ejected. Apparently there's an excellent chance this rule will be adopted.

The league, which is extremely public-relations conscious, is reacting to a report investigating last season's Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, which made the NFL look bad. What happened is that a white player. Richie Incognito, harassed a black player, Jonathan Martin--often using the n-word--to a point where Martin quit the team. In that report was a sense that the use of the n-word was out of control in the league and officials were doing nothing about it. This proposed rule is basically a PR move, with the NFL showing it can at least police one aspect of the bullying situation.

There's only one word to describe this proposed rule--idiotic.

The league is overstepping its bounds. On the one hand, the n-word is ugly, tied to centuries of abuse and degradation of black people. But, to some blacks and some black-friendly whites, it's a brotherhood greeting, meaning buddy or pal. To them, it's not ugly but instead, it's cool and cozy, a sign of camaraderie. There are two camps on the use of the n-word. The reaction is generational. To many young people, blacks in particular, it doesn't carry the negative clout it has for older people more in tune with the black revolution of the last century. The use of the n-word isn't just black and white. There are shades. The league's competition committee is ignoring that.

The NFL is ignoring something else--that, during a game, violence, ridiculously jacked-up emotions and obscene trash-talking reign. At that time, the players descend to a dark place, where the rules are different. The n-word is part of that dark place.When players are in there, you've got to cut them some slack. Penalties can change a game. Something you say during a game, when emotions are rocketed to abnormal levels, shouldn't carry that kind of weight.

Also, what about other slurs aimed at other groups, like Latins, Jews, Asians and gays? Why is the n-word on the verge of being banned during games and not kike or faggot or any other slurs? Isn't that, in itself, a form of bias, showing favoritism toward blacks and against other groups?

What about the flagrant hypocrisy of outlawing the n-word while the league allows one of its elite franchises, the Washington Redskins, to get away with having its name include a racial slur against Native Americans?. While Washington is allowed to use Redskins, the NFL should not be able to enact a rule banning another racial slur.

Bottom line. The n-word, to many, is vile, but you can't legislate away its use in this specialized arena. If the NFL is dumb enough to adopt this rule, it won't make a bit of difference. Players will ignore it. The n-word will continue to be popular among young players, who grew up using it positively, and bigots, who thrive on it..

Give the NFL credit, though. Its heart is in the right place. But its head, in this case, is firmly up its you-know-what.