NFL considers 15 yard penalty for use of racial slurs

Is this an important addition to the proper running of NFL games or another layer of political correctness spreading everywhere? According to ESPN, the NFL is getting ready to impose an in game penalty on teams when a player uses a racial epithet during a play.

The head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity in the NFL, expects the league to institute a rule where players would be penalized 15 yards for using the N-word on the field.

John Wooten, the head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, anticipates that the NFL’s competition committee will enact the rule at the owners’ meeting next month.

Newsome also said the committee talked about other slurs coming under any possible new rule, including homophobic slurs.

Wooten, who previously has urged all players to stop using the N-word, thinks the NFL will rule an automatic 15-yard penalty for first-time offenders and an ejection for second infractions.

One assumes that this penalty will also apply to slurs regarding Jews, Muslims, gays, Native Americans and left handed players as well. But does this type of behavior really fall under what would be considered the rules of the game? I don’t think so. I can see ejecting someone from the game, and certainly the team’s owners should be able to fine – or even suspend – players for actions which they feel besmirch the team. But a fifteen yard penalty in the middle of a drive? How does unacceptable, racist speech relate to the game structure which governs the actions of the players? This seems completely out of step with the entire concept of the rules committee.

Further, what about players who use the term regarding their own friends and teammates in a way not intended to insult them? I’m not saying I approve of it personally, but the fact of the matter is that we do hear some black celebrities in sports, music or movies using the term in a casual way about each other. Will they have their TD drive shut down at midfield if they are not intentionally hurling racial invectives, but just saying something to their buddy that they would say in the locker room anyway? This looks very much like the rules committee meddling in an area where they don’t belong, potentially opening up a can of worms in terms of unintended consequences.