NFL considering giving 15-yard penalty for on-field use of racial slur

Eric Edholm
February 22, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS — Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, who also serves on the NFL's competition committee, said the NFL is considering adding a rule for the 2014 season where players would be penalized for using the N-word on the field during games.

The committee will meet next week in Naples, Fla. to discuss whether or not to implement the rule, or some version of it. The early talk is that such an offense could be treated as an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, which would be assessed as a 15-yard penalty in the NFL.

"We did discuss it over the last three days," Newsome said. "We'll now go down to Naples starting next Friday and spend more time talking about it."

Deciding how to enforce the use of racial slurs during games could prove to be tricky. That's why Newsome said the proposed rule requires further investigation and study.

"With any rule that we put into play, we have to look at it from A to Z and find out what are the unintended consequences as much as the consequences," Newsome added. "But as it was stated in our meeting, there are mics everywhere. So, if something is being said, it's probably going to be captured somewhere. So, it would be an opportunity to get it verified if we had to."

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams was accused of using the slur toward referee Roy Ellison, who was suspended one game for using a profanity in an on-field exchange between them.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!