The National Football League is a conflicted, hypocritical and scared of lawsuits employer. Yes the NFL is 70% African American but is not run by minorities and we all know the NFL would love to clean up its image. The league has a hip hop image and what is the # 1 term of endearment for African American men in hip hop culture?
Yes the N Word.
So it seems the NFL is tossing around the idea of throwing a 15 year flag (equivalent of unnecessary roughness), if the N word is heard on the playing field. Some players and analysts think this is unfair but remember first and foremost the NFL is a place of employment and a really rich money making business that has an image problem.
I'll admit I'm conflicted with the N Word, having grown up with it and it exploded in hip hop music when I was a teenager and to this day I say the N word in my head and even out loud with my own brother and old neighborhood friends. But I don't use it at work, but then again I work in a corporate office with very few fellow minorities.
Still the word is dangerous, vulgar, insensitive and a powder keg in the wrong hands and coming out of the wrong person's mouth. I don't believe anyone "owns" the word. I know there's the whole issue of who can say it and and who can't. To me its verbal nicotine, its harmful for those who use it and its second hand use is just as deadly. I wish I could get that damn word out of my head but its not as easy as just stop using it because its ingrained. Its an easy out and excuse and when I was younger that word was fun, like profanity as a young kid fun.
Still it has no place in any workplace, not my office, not a football field, not a industrial plant, no professional place should that word be said aloud. I do understand at barber shops, BBQs and other social gatherings its not realistic to not hear that word from groups of African American men, its part of our vernacular as much as any four letter word.
I think the NFL just wants to look professional, now that's saying a lot of a league where people play such a violent sport but this is all about image. Says nothing about the off field antics of many players and rap sheets and injuries and what the league may or may not have known about head trauma and its side effects.
I think a lot of this stems from the bullying issues from the Miami Dolphins from last year and the accusations of racially bullying that went on down there. That was the whole issue of African American player Jonathan Martin accusing Richie Incognito (who is white), of using the N Word and other bullying tactics. And there was the debate that they were friends and it was okay for Richie to say the N Word and I understand the league just wanting that word to go away.
But I'm not sure enforcing that word like this works, you'd have to be sure you heard it correctly (N Word instant replay anyone?), a lot of African American men use similar words in its place like ninja and even nickel.
I've been in the workforce over 20 years (including being a student worker at my high school my last two years), there's always issues of what people say and when you work with a bunch of guys inappropriate stuff is bound to be said. But its virtually impossible to police it constantly. And you want to potentially decide games over its usage?
I know the NFL wants to remain popular, be family friendly and and still make a lot of money without scaring people too badly but this is lipstick on a pig. The culture of the game, the league would have to change (and on the defensive side of the ball trust me this has already started), and that's hard work.
When I worked in the airline business a decade ago, I remember going to federally mandated sensitivity training and the first thing discussed in that class was stereotypes and unprofessional words and that was in 2001 before 9/11.
Employers take this stuff seriously, human resource departments and company attorneys are all over this stuff because of damages involved if someone has endure hearing this word.
I think of all work places the NFL has more serious issues to consider but this word and its usage need to be watched.
In the words of rapper Ice-T "Freedom of speech but watch what you say".
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