Much to my surprise the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell are considering legislation that would ban the use of the N-Word on the field. If it passes the referee will issue a 15-yard penalty for the first offense during a contest. A second offense the player would be tossed from the game.
In light of the Trayvon Martin verdict in society, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Riley Cooper N-word rant and more recently the Richie Incognito free use of the N-Word, the NFL is trying to send a message that the word should be banned.
Are we going to stop with just the N-Word?
How about other derogatory words?
How about homophobic slurs?
More importantly, how will such legislation be policed?
ESPN analyst Cris Carter suggested the following on ESPN’s Mike and Mike made a passionate plea for African-American athletes to speak out on this hot-bottom topic.
I totally agree.
I personally find the NFL’s stance in banning the N-Word appalling. Essentially the league is saying, ‘Shut up. Perform. Make the owners money and behave.’
It’s not appropriate for a league that’s approximately 70 percent African-American to have a white commissioner in Goodell empower a vastly white referee crew to monitor a word their white brethren created in the name of oppression centuries ago.
I’m sorry, but this potential restriction upon speech mirrors an institution that was once pervasive in America over 400-years ago. This maneuver has nothing to do with cleaning up the league or making a statement for the betterment of all: It’s about a league controlling a vastly African-American population by further restraining their efforts on the field.
The NFL front-office is a collection henchmen that seek to protect their brand at all cost by way of control, hypocrisy and deception. We are talking about a league and a commissioner that lacks the guts to take a principal stand in urging owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of his beloved Washington Redskins yet he’s rather emphatic upon forcing this N-Word legislation through.
Secondly, the NFL’s position is deceptive because it’s merely deflecting the blame from the real culprits and transferring the burden of N-Word to the African-American athletes who will be affected most.
The most salient events with regard to the N-Word this past season involved white NFL players hurling the N-Word at African-American players. There’s no doubt whites like Cooper and Incognito have used it in a demeaning way.
To truly institute change it must come by way of properly informing American culture to the historical development of the word and its original usage. To constructively engage in the latter it must be in the presence of open and honest dialogue amongst the brain trust in society and American sports irrespective of color.
This means regurgitating the ugly past of this country. It means a segment of white America would have to own the collective wrong-doing of their forefathers while simultaneously seeking to truly understand those who are affected today by deeds perpetrated upon African-Americans in the name of racism.
Instead of engaging openly and fostering real change the white establishment–in this case the NFL and Roger Goodell–will simply seek to control and punish those for using a word their forefathers utilized in name of oppression without input from those who will be affected most.
We are talking about a league that was formed in 1920 and has never had a predominate owner of a franchise nor had an African-American commissioner.
We are talking about a league where just 9.2 percent of its personnel are African-American yet on the field it’s largely an African-American world.
We are talking about a league that’s played 94 seasons to date yet the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson became just the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
Seems to me the NFL has far bigger fish to fry than the N-Word.
Despite the presence of the Rooney Rule and the huge salaries earned by players the league historically has treated African-Americans in a similar fashion that’s reminiscent–in terms of justice and restraints upon overall freedom–to the institution of slavery. African-Americans can play on the field, earn money for the league yet cannot freely express themselves, own teams or occupy leadership positions.
Instead of controlling the usage of the N-Word how about putting that energy to seriously diversify the league where the decisions are being made?
The time has come for the athletes to take a stand about something other than getting paid. You see, guys like Curt Flood, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown and Jackie Robinson did more than play their sports: They stood tall in the name unity to fight oppressive behavior in society and American sports. They understood the fight was bigger than their sport. The fight still exists today but next to nobody is willing to take it on.
Furthermore, being African-American doesn’t totally equip one to understand the intricacies of oppression or to be a leader. But studying history and understanding the African-American athletes’ journey on and off the field will at least demonstrate athletes stand on the shoulders of many who came before them.
I firmly believe the players must take a principal stand against this legislation. Just think if the majority of African-Americans players banned together and simply stated, ‘We will not take the field opening day if this legislation passes.’
This will get the attention of the league and shed light on the real issues here. If this legislation is to be thwarted it must come from those who will be affected most and that’s the African-American athlete.
Henchmen who seek to control don’t care to understand justice and morality. They largely understand conquest and money. If athletes are willing to act they can affect the NFL’s economic bottom-line to combat this proposed legislation.