California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Possible “n-word” ban sparks debate

    Controversy has surfaced over the NFL National Competition Committee’s discussions of banning use of the “n-word” on the field. The committee met in Florida during the first week of March to talk about this issue, as well as other possible rule changes. They will present their official recommendation at a league owners’ meeting later in March.

    The push for the ban originated with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and equality of job opportunities in the NFL. The Fritz Pollard Alliance expects the National Competition Committee to decide in favor of establishing a 15-yard penalty for first time offenses and an ejection for second offenses according to an article on

    If this kind of policy is established, it might have an impact beyond the NFL, according to Ben McEnroe, head coach of the California Lutheran University football team. Assuming the ban proves successful, McEnroe said it is likely a similar rule would eventually be implemented in college football.

    Romello Goodman, former CLU running back, said a college-level ban might have an even greater effect on the game.

    “In college, players are still developing mentally and I feel the word is said a lot more at this level than in the NFL,” Goodman said.
    John Solomon, former linebacker for the Vikings, Packers and Seahawks, said the potential influence on young people would be one of the biggest benefits of the ban.

    “We are role models, even if we don’t accept the responsibility and it’s our duty as leaders to lead our youth properly,” Solomon said.

    But Goodman said the ban might actually increase the amount of influence the word has during the game, rather than decreasing its use.
    “I think it will give more power to the word and make it a bigger deal,” Goodman said. “Players may use the word to make a statement or sound cool.”

    Another problem Goodman mentioned was that issues with the word also occur off the playing field.

    “It’s not like they solely reserve that word for game time,” Goodman said. “I don’t think the ban will make the problem go away. If anything it’s just going to intensify it and make it seem as if the word is said more than it actually is.”

    Whether the ban has the potential to reduce racial slurs or not, McEnroe said, in an email an interview, “… the NFL is going to find this to be an enforcement nightmare and it may never become fully enforced.”

    Solomon also commented on enforcement of the ban. He said that even though he supports what the ban is trying to accomplish, the motivation to stop using the word should not come from an NFL penalty.

    “To be honest, it should be pushed by the coaches and the teams,” Solomon said. “This issue is bigger than the NFL. It’s an American issue.”

    A final point mentioned by both Solomon and McEnroe was the relationship between this kind of a ban and First Amendment rights.

    “Is the league going to ban cussing now?” Solomon said. “I don’t know how I feel because there is part of me that wants to fight for freedom of speech, but the African American man in me wants this word abolished for good.”

    These are all concerns that could impact the National Competition Committee’s recommendation. But, even if they do suggest implementing a ban, the decision will not be final until the league owners’ vote at the end of March.


    Nerissa Cauthen
    Staff Writer
    Published March 12, 2014