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NFL might make use of racist language a 15-yard penalty

Ozzie Newsome became the first black general manager

Ozzie Newsome became the first black general manager in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens in 2002. Credit: AP

NFL players who make racist remarks during games may face a 15-yard penalty.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, a member of the league's Competition Committee, said Saturday that the committee has discussed the possibility of issuing a penalty. The idea was first proposed last year by John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group involved in promoting racial diversity in the NFL.

Last season, Redskins tackle Trent Williams, who is black, used the n-word when complaining about an officiating call by umpire Roy Ellison, who also is African-American.

"We did talk about it," Newsome told reporters Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I'm sure you saw that toward the end of the year, Fritz Pollard came out very strong with a message that the league needs to do something about the language on the field. So we did discuss it over the last few days."

The committee will discuss the subject further and could present a proposal to NFL owners when they meet in Orlando in late March. Any rules change would require approval of 24 of the league's 32 owners.

"With any rule that we put into play, we have to look at it from A to Z," Newsome said. "We find out what are the unintended consequences, not just the consequences. As it was stated in our meeting, there are [microphones on the field] everywhere. So if something is being said, it's probably going to be captured somewhere. So we'll get an opportunity to get it verified if we have to.''

New York Sports