The NFL is working toward banning the use of racial slurs during games, particularly the N-word. The proposal has drawn mixed reaction from current players. On Monday, Richard Sherman told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that he would be extremely opposed to the rule.
“It’s an atrocious idea,” Sherman said. “It’s almost racist, to me. It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”
I don’t know about all curse words, but I agree with Sherman that only banning the N-word and not other racial slurs would not make sense. What I don’t agree with is his assertion that pronouncing the “-er” at the end of the word is what makes it racist. Sherman said that finishing the word with “-a” is not disrespectful when used among African-American players.
“It’s in the locker room and on the field at all times,” he added. “I hear it almost every series out there on the field.”
So calling someone a thug is the equivalent of using the N-word but pronouncing it with an “-a” on the end makes it a different word altogether? Come on now.
King also asked two other African-American for their opinion on the impending rule. Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty agreed with Sherman, saying the N-word is so common that it’s the equivalent of calling someone “bro” or “man.” Free agent linebacker D’Qwell Jackson disagreed.
“Ultimately, if the NFL can get it done, it’s great for our game. But I think refs have a hard enough time officiating the game now,” Jackson said. “Now they’d be asked to police language?”
Enforcing the rule would be the challenging part, and it’s looking like players could initially be given a warning for using it and then assessed a penalty if it happens a second time.
I’m white, so I obviously don’t understand both sides of the argument. I just don’t agree with the “-er” vs. “-a” argument. It’s the same word pronounced differently. I’ve heard plenty of Bostonians use the “-a” pronunciation in a derogatory manner. That said, banning it altogether would be incredibly difficult. Pittsburgh Steelers co-chairman Dan Rooney already tried that, and the team only respected his request for a day. It’s part of the culture that would be difficult to change.