NFL referees will likely penalize teams for players' use of the N-word during games this fall. "The officials will be empowered to call a foul if there are racial slurs or statements regarding another player's sexual orientation," St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said last week. "[The N-word] falls under that. It is going to be a very significant point of emphasis." Fisher is part of the league's competition committee, which proposes rules for the owners to vote on.
This is just another attempt by the league to rein in outspoken black players such as the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman, who thinks banning the N-word is a dumb idea. I agree. It impossible to get rid of the N-word. Though African-Americans are split on its use, the word is a part of black culture.
Younger, liberal generations that grew up on rap music and MTV embrace it as part of their daily dialogue. They use it in both derogatory and complimentary ways. For instance, if I say, "That's my nigga," I'm calling someone my pal or my buddy. And "What's up, nigga?" is the equivalent of "Hey, guy, what's going on?" Hip-hop artists have been using the N-word in this context since the '80s.
NFL Shouldn't Censor the N-Word on the Field
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Now, if a black man has a friend who stabs him in the back, burglarizes his house, or sleeps with his significant other, that's a "fuck nigga." On the football field, you might see a defensive player trying to take out a wide receiver's legs and injure him. The wide receiver is likely to get in his opponent's face and scream, "That was some fuck nigga shit you just did."
That's completely different from an incident before last season involving Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who is white. At a country music concert, the University of Florida alum was caught on video saying, "I will fight every nigger in here."
It is not an NFL referee's job to censor athletes. Refs are there to call games impartially, regardless of what players say to one another in the heat of battle.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.