NFL Considers in-Game Penalties for Anti-Gay, Racist Slurs

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Feb 24, 2014

A rule change may be on the horizon for the National Football League regarding in-game penalties for players using anti-gay and racially charged language.

In the wake of the Michael Sam's coming out, who is poised to be the first openly gay NFL player, the league's competition committee had also discussed possible penalties for homophobic slurs.

According Gay Star News Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's comments that the banning of on-field homophobic language was being considered alongside racial abuse and that it had been discussed by the committee in the last three days.

"We had some officials in our meeting that [are] actually out there on the field and hear the language," said Newsome. "We'll be able to put all that together and if there's a need to we will present something to our owners in Orlando."

The competition committee meets for several days in Naples, Fla., next week, where they will decide what will be presented to owners at league meetings in March.

"With any rule that we put into play we have to look at it from A to Z and find out any unintended consequences as much as the consequences," said Newsome. "So, as it was stated in our meeting, there are mics everywhere, so if something has been said it's probably going to be captured somewhere. So there will be an opportunity to get it verified if we have to."

Newsome's comments came in response to a call by the diversity-in-NFL group the Fritz Pollard Alliance that called for players to be given 15-yard penalties for using racial slurs during a game. A second offense would result in them being ejected from the game.

ESPN reports 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.

"I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we're trying to do," Wooten told CBS. "We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room," Wooten said of the N-word.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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