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The NFL is weighing instituting a rule that would penalize players 15 yards for using the N-word while on the field of play.
John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors league diversity, tells ESPN he’s almost certain the NFL’s competition committee will formally enact the rule during next month’s scheduled owners meetings.
“We did talk about it, I’m sure that you saw near the end of the year that Fritz Pollard came out very strong with the message that the league needs to do something about the language on the field,” Baltimore Ravens GM and competition committee member Ozzie Newsome told ESPN. “So we did discuss that over the last three days.”
According to Newsome, the committee also addressed the use of other slurs falling under the umbrella of the proposed new rule, including homophobic rants. Wooten, who previously has urged all to disavow use of the N-word, added he thinks the league will rule to access an automatic 15-yard penalty for first-time offenders and an ejection for second infractions.
“I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we’re trying to do,” he told CBSSports.com. “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 competition committee first meets next week in Florida, where they will decide what will be presented to owners at league meetings in March. Wooten anticipates the committee will finalize all language related to the proposal next week, then move to formally present it to owners.
“I think they’re going to do what needs to be done here,” he said. “There is too much disrespect in the game.”
Use of the N-word was found to be rampant in the Miami Dolphins locker room, many feel adding to the kind of toxic atmosphere that fostered the reported bullying and hazing of Jonathan Martin by teammate Richie Incognito and perhaps others, leading to the second-year player bolting the team at midseason.
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