Legislating Language: Will the NFL Ban the N-Word?

Standing tall in the pocket is something NFL teams will want Johnny Manziel to prove he can do at the next level. (Darren Carroll/SI)
Standing tall in the pocket is something NFL teams will want Johnny Manziel to prove he can do at the next level. (Darren Carroll/SI)

The game is changing, which is why Johnny Manziel has a chance to win.

Last week, former quarterbacks and current tape students Ron Jaworski and Phil Simms both came out as skeptics of Johnny Manziel. I liked it. If you’re an analyst and don’t voice your real opinion, what good are you? And there is much work to be done by the teams in the top eight that need a quarterback (Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Minnesota and maybe Tampa Bay). Last week, Manziel’s quarterback coach, George Whitfield, said they are focusing on Manziel’s throwing and decision-making from the pocket as they prepare for his pro-day workout on March 27. Manziel was such a wild stallion as a quarterback at Texas A&M, often leaving the pocket early instead of staying home. But it is folly to say he hasn’t played well at times in the pocket; some of his best plays—though maybe not always with good footwork—came with traffic around him, and Manziel finding the receiver he needed to find. But Whitfield knows you don’t want to neuter all of his instincts and you don’t want him exposed to the number of hits he faced in college either.

The people I spoke with at the combine who have an interest in drafting a quarterback want to see Manziel play better when hemmed in, as he was against LSU last year. I find it interesting that Nick Saban didn’t emphasize keeping Manziel inside the tackle box (or if he did, it just didn’t work) the way LSU coach Les Miles did. Check out how Manziel did in his two meetings against LSU and Alabama. Saban, I would argue, is the biggest test for a quarterback in college football, given his track record on the pro and college levels.

Team W-L Comp-Att, Pct. Yards TD-Int Rushes Yards
LSU 0-2 45-97, .464 500 1-5 29 119
Alabama 1-1 52-70, .743 717 7-2 32 190
 

“I understand he’s not for all 32 teams,” said Phil Savage, the color man on Alabama radio broadcasts, executive director of the Senior Bowl and former NFL GM with the Browns. “But he’s so instinctive, such a playmaker and such a smart football player that I think there have to be a few teams that think, We can shape our offense around him and use his skills for what he does best. We can win with him.”

My guess, two-plus months out from the draft: Jacksonville, at number three, or Oakland, at five, make the most sense. If I’m Jags offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who is one of the most imaginative young coaches in the game, I’d love to get my hands on Manziel.

* * *

The cap doubles in 14 years.

The salary cap has doubled in this century, and it has virtually quadrupled in its 20-year history. Some figures to know since the salary cap’s inception in 1994:

Year Cap number per team Remark
1994 $34.6 million 26 percent of the current cap
2000 $62.2 million Less than one-half of today’s cap
2005 $85.5 million Year before Gene Upshaw’s last deal
2006 $102.0 million Jump in Upshaw’s first year of last CBA
2009 $123.0 million Last capped year of previous deal
2010 uncapped Led to Washington, Dallas sanctions
2013 $123.0 million Flat with 2009; pressure on NFLPA for a raise
2014 $133.0 million 8.2% hike in line with burgeoning revenues
 

Collectively, teams have more than $700 million to spend when free agency begins a week from Tuesday. If I were a GM, I’d try to spend internally, the way the Eagles did last Thursday and Friday, signing four key offensive players to new deals, and eliminating the need to go outside the building for important positions like left tackle (Jason Peters, one of the best in the league, got re-signed) when there’s usually a reason why players are on the market in the first place. The two best left tackles out there now, Brandon Albert and Eugene Monroe, are coming off so-so and good years, respectively, but with tackle-needy teams like Miami and Arizona out there with cap room to spare, one or both is likely to get overpaid.

Explaining The Salary Cap

Former agent and Packers executive Andrew Brandt presents his guide to understanding the NFL's most confusing topic. FULL STORY

As I wrote about last week, NFL teams are going to have to spend the money on somebody, inside or outside the organization. Teams are mandated to spend a combined 95% of the salary cap on players in the 2013 through 2016 seasons; each team must spend, minimum, 89% of the cap money available or face a stiff penalty in 2017. “If the league-wide spend in those four seasons is not at least 95 percent,’’ said George Atallah, the assistant executive director for external affairs of the NFL Players Association, “the NFLPA can disburse that unspent money how it wants.’’ Similarly, any team not at an 89% spending rate between 2013 and 2016 will have to fork over what it is shy, and the NFLPA can distribute it to the affected players who were on the team during that period.

Point is, teams now will be forced to spend to the minimums required by the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. That’s a good thing. And with the cap projected to increase by at least $10 million more in 2015, this should be a good time for players who thought they were being held back by a relatively flat cap to make up for lost time.

Who could strike it rich? Three projections:

1. Cleveland center Alex Mack (either with the Browns or elsewhere), a sturdy 28-year-old line leader and solid run blocker, should average $8 million a year, minimum.

2. Miami defensive tackle Paul Soliai, 30 years old but relatively lightly used in his career, is the best run-stuffer on the market and should command at least $6 million a year.

3. Tennessee cornerback Alterraun Verner, who just turned 25 and had his best season with the Titans. Cover corners and rushers will be the most lucrative positions on the market, and Tennessee, going against Andrew Luck and new quarterbacks due in Jacksonville and Houston, needs to do everything it can to keep Verner.

* * *

Player of the Week: Brandin Cooks, wide receiver/returner, Oregon State

Brandin Cooks' 128 catches ranked second in the NCAA FBS in 2013.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brandin Cooks’ 128 catches ranked second in the NCAA FBS in 2013. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Between now and the May 8 NFL draft, I plan to take a look at a different player in the news each week. This week it’s one of the stars of the NFL Scouting Combine, wide receiver Brandin Cooks of Oregon State.

I watched the Oregon State offensive snaps of three of his 2013 games—against Cal, Stanford and USC. It was the TV copy, and the wide receivers were out of the picture quite often, so I couldn’t get a good picture of him blocking downfield (though he did block aggressively in a scrum against Stanford for a fellow receiver). And I can’t say I am confident about his route-running either, for a similar reason. But I got a good feel for his physicality competing for balls and his hands and his speed around the edge. All very good. I didn’t see the blow-the-top-off-the-defense speed I thought I’d see after his 4.33 40-time at the combine, but he clearly is plenty fast. Oregon State uses him on the Jet sweeps the way Seattle used Percy Harvin when healthy in 2013; he didn’t break many, but you don’t sneer at 6.8 yards per play on the sweeps.

Cooks reminded me of the West Virginia all-purpose weapon, Tavon Austin, who was the only rusher/receiver picked in the top half of the first round of the 2013 draft. Cooks, I believe, is slightly more physical. Comparing Austin and Cooks and the final seasons of their college careers:

Player 40 time Height Weight Rec. Yards Avg. TD Overall Draft Pick
Austin 4.34 5-9 174 114 1289 11.3 12 8
Cooks 4.33 5-9 ¾ 189 128 1730 13.5 16
 

The most impressive play I saw Cooks make came against Stanford. From the Cardinal 8-yard line, quarterback Sean Mannion looked for Cooks running a short post on the right side. Cooks caught it around the 4 and hurtled toward the end zone, with three Stanford defenders in the way. Cooks dove under safety Ed Reynolds, his main foe near the goal line, while defensive tackle David Parry and linebacker A.J. Tarpley tried to squeeze him from getting in for the score. Cooks barely made it. The physicality of the play was impressive; Cooks knew he’d get clobbered, but he went for it nonetheless—and he won.

But there are other assets. I saw two high leaps where he came down for the ball fighting a defensive back. He is a very good boundary receiver, with good awareness of the sideline and end line, and good ability to get his feet down when he looks to be completely concentrating on the ball. And he’s a plucker of the ball; his hands dart out, grab the ball softly and bring it in.

“I’m a playmaker,” Cooks said at the combine. “I’m able to create plays from nothing—able to catch a three-yard ball, take it the distance. Speed kills, and I feel like that’s what I’m going to bring to the game.”

This is a terrific receiver class—Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Marqise Lee are the more highly regarded and bigger receivers, and fast-riser Odell Beckham is another high-pick contender. The quantity and quality will likely push Cooks down to the second half of the first round; there’s a slight chance he’d fall to the second round, but with wideout-needy teams late in the first round (New England, Baltimore, Cleveland, Carolina, San Francisco), it’s highly unlikely he’ll make it out. Seeing as they have a huge need for a playmaker, the Jets, at 18, would be a great landing spot for Cooks.

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536 comments
Norman Keister
Norman Keister

I vote for the NFL ( white only ) and the NFL ( black only ) and we will see which one makes the cut !!!!

RickDesper
RickDesper

Phill Simms is a scientist.  (*chortle*)

DfpMiiWe
DfpMiiWe

For the best content and news go to dailyfirstpages.com. 

ScottConrad
ScottConrad

If I am a black defensive player, I get in a little skirmish with Riley Cooper, say the N word loud enough for a nearby official to hear it, then act like Riley said and see if I can get the penalty called on him.  


In reality, you add on field language as a point of emphasis for unsportsmanlike conduct calls this next year.


It will probably be called as much as last year's controversial RB leading with crown of helmet penalty...

number18
number18

Jaws and Idiot Sims only speak up when it is Politically Correct to do so and LiL pete"likes that".

number18
number18

Simple Solution: Only blacks can use the Nword.Sounds fair.

H.LewisSmith
H.LewisSmith

How did the Black African American community come about seeing and using the n-word as a term of endearment?Just what is the true significance of their use of the word n**ga?The answers to these questions and much more are revealed in the following publication which was released on February 10, 2014:

https://www.createspace.com/4655015

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

NFL refs can't seem to get visual calls right. Now they are supposed to be running around listening to on the field banter?

Ridiculous.

MichaelHanny
MichaelHanny

Several retired Black football players and executives (who paved the way for current players) have come out in support of a proposal to legislate the "n" word out of the NFL, instituting a 15 yard penalty for use of the word during games.


NFL player Richard Sherman came out and stated that the proposal is "racist", and there are many who disagree with him, while agreeing withthese former players and pioneers that the word is degrading, and that the word is offensive regardless of context.

Offensive language is offensive language. All of it should be prohibited. When the "n" word was used by the black community without the limelight of media (despite white folks overhearing blacks call other blacks this, and saying nothing for decades, even centuries), there was no outcry. Even when the word became "ebonisized" (pronouncing the word with an "a" suffix instead of the "er"), and with the black community using IT both in negative and positive contexts, there was no outcry.  Now, since the NFL "brand" risks being tarnished, folks are coming out for this rule, defending the "shield". 

What about all of the other offensive grunts and verbalizations so common on the gridiron? Can I call a white person a "cracker" and get away with it, while the white person calls me a "n", it's 15 yards? Is this right? 

Kudos to Sherman. He called a spade a spade. This puts young black men in the spotlight in a negative way once again, veiled by the "righteousness" and "history" that is quite apparent and recognized by most. Racism comes in many forms, and this is yet another form. Too bad those former Black players and executives don't see this, despite their yeoman and admirable posture and effort.

Acotoz
Acotoz

The biggest question here is how is the NFL going to enforce this? 22 players on the field just a small handful of officials, how many times is the word thrown out when there's a skirmish?? Refs will spend at least 5 minutes explaining all the flags  (Ed Hoculi will spend 10)

KennethJohnson
KennethJohnson

For the N-word, I can't see Dr. King or Malcolm using it. Richard Sherman and the new gen Rappers that N-word is adorned with hundreds of years of whips, chains and pain in America. It is not an affirmation of identity with used among black people,but a subliminal denigration (do you know who you are, and don't you forget it) Malcolm X asked who told you were n*ggers. And no you can't gold plated it or change the spelling for bling. That's mighty white of you(go ask your grandparents).

For The R-word, I suggest the ad, "Redskins and Cowboys-real people, real dead people, not a kids game. When 'Indians" fought to drive back the invading settlers by any means necessary, and the soldiers killed and moved the Native Americans off their land into concentration camps(reservations). We stand behind Redskins, brave fearless freedom fighters for their people and remember." Let get real.   

SARDiver
SARDiver

Overheard between two friends at Manhattan gym:

"See that guy over there? He was checking me out into, within, and out of the steam room. Who the hell is that guy? I used extra towels just to cover myself up, but he kept staring at me."

"I dunno. He was reading a piece on that Sam guy, and I think I heard Bette Midler coming from his iPod."

It's creepy to pay that much attention to another man in a locker room.

SweetLightCrude
SweetLightCrude

The only thing more ridiculous that someone like Sherman defending this word is all the white folks here getting all upset about "reverse racism."


Why is it so flipping important to point out that black people can be racist? Do you seriously think that somehow levels the playing field a bit? Does it make you feel a little less guilty about the past?  

BillieZahurak
BillieZahurak

Just like on the playground in kindergarten, if everyone can't say it, no one should say it.

tbdetermined
tbdetermined

you are here because of your ancestors remember their struggles. do you really want to live in your ignorance? If you demand respect, respect yourself. 

Marc1017
Marc1017

This is probably one of the stupidest things I have ever heard from a League. How are you going to regulate language both logistically and legally? This will only serve to further pussify the NFL even farther than they already have done. Its getting so ridiculous that the replacement "N-word" phrase is synonomus as the actual word. That means the word is fine and its the racist idiot you should be more careful of then his language. This word is no better or worse than any other curse or derrogatory word or phrase in the English language. And if someone uses it with me then I have the spoken right to use it in front of them.

And besides, how am I going to get my Jay-Z freak on if I cant use it? 

Get past it America. We have bigger battles to fight.

BettyGeorge
BettyGeorge

I have always found the use of the N word very disrespectful.  I raised my children not to say it and I also will tell my grandchildren not to.  I even have told my Grand children who are biracial they are not allowed to use that word in my home it is very disrespectful and will continue to do so until the day I die.  I am for the ban and will be happy when it is enforced.   It is something that needs to be done.  They are as much a part of the nfl reguardless of their color o9f their skin.  Color is only skin deep, and we as fans need to stand up and say enough is enough.  We are all of Gods Children reguardless of the color of our skin. 

RobJohnson3
RobJohnson3

None of the races can use the N word?

rohlb2351
rohlb2351

The only solutions by the NFL that might eliminate trash talking is to either to affect the offending players' income with substantial fines or reducing a team's winning potential by ejecting offending players from the game. .Don't expect either to occur.

eljoylan
eljoylan

Another lover of the lime light....That's it Richard....If it's not fixed, let it stay broke.

Junkjunk
Junkjunk

Such an ugly word. Stunning that young blacks use it as cheaply as they do given the terrible, relatively recent history associated with it, and the pain that it continues to cause their elders.  Selfish, disrespectful, ignorant.

JuliaAnD'Elia
JuliaAnD'Elia

This needs to apply to all or none.  Equality does not mean you get to pick and chose. 

nole777
nole777

Use of the N word will only apply to the white players.

Redskins
Redskins

"I’d love to get my hands on Manziel. " Of course you would. But what do you know!

tkeller200
tkeller200

To say its a word, that when used among African-American players, is OK. But not for other races to say. That to me is racist. What other words are we not to use Sherman, please tell me?

RickDesper
RickDesper

@ScottConrad  You really think that would work?  So you're some kind of professional ventriloquist who can throw his voice while imitating somebody else?  


Yeah, that's not going to happen often.

DonnieToby
DonnieToby

@number18 The ONLY way to handle this concern is to make the NFL and AFL an all 'Black' sport, which it is almost already. .

MarvinGardens
MarvinGardens

@Acotoz It's impossible to fairly enforce.  It's comical to even consider.  The entire discussion is a waste of breath.


Bigger question .... why do these people who proclaim to hate the word, find any excuse to use it.  Defies logic.

RickDesper
RickDesper

@SARDiver  Glad to "hear" homophobia is alive and well in Manhattan.  Because I'm sure that story isn't something you just made up.

KidHorn
KidHorn

@SARDiver PK was probably pissed because the guy only left him 4 towels.

MarvinGardens
MarvinGardens

@SweetLightCrude Why should anyone feel guilty about the past.  I don't know anyone who had anything to do with it.  It's time to get over it.

SARDiver
SARDiver

Didn't realize we all needed to feel guilty about the past. If everyone

from a particular race is somehow guilty for the crimes committed by

another in that race, then...the bigots have a point, don't they?

I don't think they do, since the crimes of others are not up for

distribution.

RickDesper
RickDesper

@Marc1017  So the NFL is made more masculine by letting players use racist language with each other?


Not seeing how that logic works.  

number18
number18

@BettyGeorge Ms.Betty,it's the black folks that use this word in the NFL dee mostest.

atreborn
atreborn

@eljoylan  The only thing being fixed is the game!  15 yards as a ref's discretion sounds like "win win " to me.  Maybe Richard should just remain one of the sheep. 

atreborn
atreborn

@tkeller200  I'm white but I can't stand it when other whites are so narrow minded to only hear what suits them.  I'm not sure tkeller200 really cares what Sherman says, only that he does not actually know that Sherman said "Why wouldn't all curse words be banned then".  70% of the NFL is Black.  The white players on the the teams are not the ones complaining.  Ask your self "who is behind this push to end the "N" word. Then ask yourself when was the last time you witnessed an NFL player saying it.  Maybe you should then ask your self "15 yard against your team" because a Referee felt it necessary to control the outcome of the game.  Maybe reading between the lines instead of putting the blinders on should be in question. 

RickDesper
RickDesper

@MarvinGardens @Acotoz  

It's actually pretty easy to enforce.  I'm not seeing the difficulty.


I could make the same argument made above but move it to "throwing punches".

tbdetermined
tbdetermined

@MarvinGardens @SweetLightCrude it's not about feeling guilty, it's about respect. If the word is still around then obviously we are not over it. If you are over it, you would not use the word.  

Junkjunk
Junkjunk

@Redskins Agree, proposed rules would be impossible to enforce.  That said I'm very much in favor of NFL "legislating" against the Redskins name.

Junkjunk
Junkjunk

And sadly, you've established yours.

tarheel2
tarheel2

@Junkjunk @Redskins And I'm also sure you are in favor of legislating against the Bengals as well.  These poor animals are being defamed by Cincinnati using their name.

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