The US National Football League (NFL) competition committee will consider whether to introduce penalties for players who use homophobic language during games in a first of its kind suggestion for the sporting code.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed to ESPN yesterday that the banning of on-field homophobic language was being considered alongside racial abuse and that it had been discussed by the committee in the last three days.
‘We had some officials in our meeting that [are] actually out there on the field and hear the language,’ Newsome said, ‘We’ll be able to put all that together and if there’s a need to we will present something to our owners in Orlando.’
‘With any rule that we put into play we have to look at it from A to Z and find out any unintended consequences as much as the consequences. So, as it was stated in our meeting, there are mics everywhere, so if something has been said it’s probably going to be captured somewhere. So there will be an opportunity to get it verified if we have to.’
Newsome’s comments were in response to diversity-in-NFL group the Fritz Pollard Alliance calling for players to be given 15-yard penalties if they use a racial slur during a game – with a second offense resulting in them being ejected from the game altogether.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance is named after the first African American to coach a professional gridiron team in 1921, and the organization has recently stepped up its campaign to have players stop using the N-word.
Fritz Pollard Alliance head John Wooten told CBS Sports that he expected the competition committee to act on the issue and that team owners would follow suit.
‘I will be totally shocked if the competition committee does not uphold us on what we’re trying to do,’ Wooten told CBS.
‘We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room,’ Wooten said of the N-word.
The competition committee will meet in Florida next week to consider what proposals they take to team owners at NFL league meetings in March.