WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — The National Football League is expected to institute a new rule making it a 15-yard penalty if a player says the “N-word” on the field, according to the head of the foundation that monitors diversity in the league.
John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, told CBS Sports that he expects the NFL’s competition committee to enact the rule next month during the owner’s meeting.
“I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we’re trying to do,” Wooten told CBS Sports. “We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room. Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere.”
Wooten continued: “I think they’re going to do what needs to be done here. “There is too much disrespect in the game.”
The NFL did not comment on the proposed rule.
The proposed rule comes in the wake of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and NFL prospect Michael Sam revealing he is gay.
The NFL recently reminded teams of laws against asking draft prospects about their sexuality and the guidelines for interviewing players this week in Indianapolis. A year ago, three players complained they were asked inappropriate questions they believed were intended to seek details about their sexual orientation.
Talking about harmony is easy in the offseason, of course, but maintaining an atmosphere of respect and tolerance is another story once dozens of players are thrown together. With a 53-man roster, no coach can come close to hearing every word.
“It’s hard. You try to set a good culture and a good environment in your building and hope for the best,” Denver Broncos coach John Fox said.
Clearly, this issue will be scrutinized this year, with Sam entering the league, and the Dolphins trying to repair their image.
“What happened there has nothing to do with what we are doing in Tampa Bay,” new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said. “The locker room has been there all along. You have to have strong veteran leadership in the locker room. As the head football coach I have to have a pulse on what is going on in the locker room. Rely on a lot of people. Have a relationship were information comes to me.
“No, we are not going to change what we’ve done. Our program has always been about acceptance. Everybody feeling like they are part. Everybody feeling good about coming to work every day in an environment where they can do their best.”
That is what this next class of rookies is counting on.
“In every locker room you go there’s going to be conflict,” Memphis punter Tom Hornsey said. “That’s just the nature of the game. It’s very competitive. It’s got a lot of testosterone flowing through. … But it’s not a concern. I’m pretty laid back and just take it as it is.”
So what’s the secret, then, to making sure the boys-will-be-boys culture that still exists doesn’t become the dominant vibe of the locker room?
Well, like with many issues, the Super Bowl champions are usually a good place to start.
“Everybody puts pressure on themselves, and we try to create a culture that’s outgoing, fun, aggressive,” Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. “Life’s too short to stress yourself out and stress other people out.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)