NFL considers new 15-yard penalty for racial slur - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

NFL considers new 15-yard penalty for racial slur

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The National Football League is taking steps to stop players from using the "N" word.

The move comes on the heels of bullying complaints in Miami and another incident in Washington, and local coaches and referees say it's about time.

He has become the poster child for alleged bullying in the NFL, and as Richie Incognito adjusts to life away from the Miami Dolphins, the NFL is making a statement.

"Unfortunately it's 2014," said St. Augustine High School Head Coach Cyril Crutchfield, "and we're a little behind the times in trying to crack down on that word."

The league's competition committee is now considering a 15-yard penalty for anyone using the slur.

"The league needs to do something about the language on the field, and we did discuss it over the last three days," said NFL competition committee member Ozzie Newsome.

Incognito is accused of using it against a teammate, and a player used it against umpire Roy Ellison in a Redskins game last season. Some believe the NFL is trying to minimize its liability if any lawsuits arise from the Incognito affair. Others say it's simply an effort to promote civility and avoid fights.

"No question about it, I think it sets the stage," said Gerald Austin, a referee with Conference USA. "If one player states it, it angers the other player, and he will come back with something stronger, and he'll do something against the other player."

One veteran high school official we spoke with said it has gotten bad. He says he hears the word being used all the time, and he's hoping Louisiana high school rules are changed to allow him to start throwing some flags.

"I've heard it from the locker room and fans going out to the field," said Crutchfield.

Currently, using the word won't get you penalized in Louisiana high school football, but college refs say they do flag players, and they expect to do so even more.

"I think there will be great emphasis this year," said Austin. "But the rule has been in place."

If the NFL does make using the word a penalty, some believe it will help make the word even less acceptable to the general public.

"I don't think there's any question that it could have a positive role for our society," said Crutchfield, who said he's tired of hearing the word directed at his players, and he's hoping the NFL adopts the new rule and it filters down to high school sports.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said the team supports any effort to eliminate the use of racial slurs.

Competition committee members will discuss the new penalty further this weekend at a meeting in Naples, Fla.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association did not return our requests for comment on this story. 

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