When the NFL competition committee meets next week in Naples, Fla., they will discuss and vote on whether or not to present a rule change to owners for next season that would call for players to be penalized for using racial and gender-related slurs during games. Should such a rule eventually be passed, however, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark believes it will be tough to enforce.
“I think it’s going to be really tough to legislate this rule, to find a way to penalize everyone who uses this [N] word,” Clark told ESPN‘s Bob Ley during an “Outside The Lines” special report. “And it’s not going to be white players using it toward black players. Most of the time you hear it, it’s black players using the word.”
The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group made up of minority coaches and front-office, scouting and game-day NFL officials, are the ones pushing for the new rule that if passed, would result in players being flagged 15-yards for a first offense and an ejection for second infractions
“We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room,” said John Wooten, head of Fritz Pollard Alliance, according to a recent CBS Sports report. “Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere.”
In light of the report that was released last week by Ted Wells that documented the harassment of Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin by teammate and fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito, Clark said he thinks Incognito was empowered to use the N-word as an acceptable term of endearment in the Dolphins locker room. He went on to say that that’s something he would never let happen in his presence.
“If I’m sitting at a table with Incognito, and he speaks to Jonathan Martin and used the N-word, I’m not stepping in to save Jonathan Martin or to defend him. I’m stepping in because I’m offended that you even fixed your mouth to say it,” Clark said.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was named to the NFL’s competition committee last April after serving on the coaches subcommittee since 2009. I’m sure he will be asked by the media to comment on the potential rule change either next week or at the annual AFC coaches’ media breakfast which will take place next month in Orlando, Fla. at the owners meetings.
As for Wooten, he fully expects the rule to be passed this offseason and will be shocked if it’s not.