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Richard Sherman on N-word penalty: It's atrocious idea, almost racist

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

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The NFL Competition Committee was in Florida over the weekend and one of the topics discussed was whether it should be a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for players who use the N-word during games.

Outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the latest to weigh in on the matter, telling TheMMQB.com's Peter King "it's an atrocious idea."

“It's almost racist, to me," Sherman continued. "It's weird they're targeting one specific word. Why wouldn't all curse words be banned then?”

Fair point and one that's been brought up before. Here's ESPN's Bomani Jones last week on Highly Questionable.

"How about the fact that the NFL would be sending the message that racial slurs are only okay if they can monetize them like with the Washington Redskins," Jones began. "Or the fact that the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which is pushing this, seems to be doing it in a fairly self-serving manner. We're talking about a word that applies to the constituency that they represent, but we sure do have an openly gay player coming into the NFL for the first time and nobody's talking about that F-word.

Richard Sherman thinks flagging players for using the N-word is 'almost racist.'. (USATSI)
Richard Sherman thinks flagging players for using the N-word is 'almost racist.' (USATSI)

"And then there's the fact that this could probably never actually be enforced. It sounds like a great idea, it sounds really noble. It also sounds tired respectability politics and it's problematic."

Yes it is.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark said recently that team chairman Dan Rooney tried to get the word out of the locker room with temporary success.

"You stopped hearing it immediately that day," Clark said. "But after a while it came back because it's the culture. After a while it comes back because this is what these guys have grown up with."

Sherman made a similar point.

“It's in the locker room and on the field at all times,” he said. “I hear it almost every series out there on the field.”

Then there's this: A source told King that the biggest problem is what happens if officials flag the wrong player -- and he's white -- for using the word? That player would then carry that with him the rest of his career.

These are the unintended consequences of not thinking things through. We've seen it previously with the league trying to legislate head shots out of football and then watching players suffer horrific leg injuries.

Put another way: Regarding the N-word discussions, this is a case of the NFL providing answers to questions that didn't previously exist.

There have to be more important issues on the league's to-do list.

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