A personal foul penalty for the N-word is ridiculous

Protecting the quarterback, defenseless receivers and the N-word ban are ridiculous penalties. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for safety and equality. The game is better when the star players are on the field. And the world is better when all people are treated with kindness and respect. But in a game of inches, the NFL wants to penalize a mile.


Number occurred in 2013

Yards penalized

Unnecessary Roughness



Roughing the Passer



Personal Foul



Unsportsmanlike Conduct






In 2013 pro football reference said there were 470 fouls that were subjective calls on game time ethics. Those calls resulted in 6,194 yards. Or in other words, more than three and a half miles were walked off because certain players were misbehaving.

My problem with this is that it is punishing a whole team for something that doesn’t affect the results on the field. A lineman throws an extra shove after the play – 15 yards. A receiver spins the ball at a defender – 15 yards. A blitzer brushes the quarterback’s helmet with his forearm – 15 yards. Someone mutters the N-word near an official – 15 yards. Whaaaa???? All of these offenses should be monitored and probably fined, but it’s not like any of these actions change the result of what’s happening on the field.

This makes me think of how the NCAA hands out their punishments for "athletes receiving improper benefits."

/So you’re telling me that USC gave Reggie Bush improper benefits to play for the program.

Uh, not exactly. It came from an outside source.

Yea, but they definitely should have known about it though.

Should we give them the "lack of institutional control" thingy?

Darn skippy. Let’s take away, uh . . . 30 scholarships over 2 years and make it as though their championship never happened.

So we’re punishing future players for one past player’s mistakes.

Yup, but don’t phrase it like that.

What’s gonna happen to Bush though?

Uh, not much. We can ask him to give back the Heisman Trophy.

Got it. Punish the wrong people. Anything else?

Yea, make Pete Carroll look like a cheater.

The game is already hard enough when arbitrary yardage isn’t handed out. Just ask Kevin Dyson, the receiver for the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV how much an extra few inches means to a football game. Now just imagine how much harder that would have been if someone would have been flagged for using the N-word the play before. Or heck, imagine if the Rams had uttered the unutterable the play before and the Titans had 3 more yards to play with.

My point is that these types of actions do not affect the outcome on the field. The penalties do. The penalties change the game and give an arbitrary advantage to one team or the other. You can hope that your arbitrary penalty luck can regress toward the mean, or even out over time, but they are just that – Arbitrary. Offsides, Holding, PI all give an advantage on the field and should be rightfully flagged but a defenseless receiver call is a judgment made, whether the receiver caught the ball or not – 15 additional yards.

How good the teams are, and their level of play on that day, should determine the outcome of a game, NOT a penalty flag. Most of us agree that a ticky-tack roughing the passer penalty in the final minute of a close game can change the outcome. However, the 2nd quarter taunting penalty that took your team out of field goal range often gets overlooked.

Here’s my solution. Have a set of matching fines for misconduct. One fine going to the player, one to the positional coach and one to the head coach. Have it relative and fair in relation to certain personnel’s salaries. These sets of fines would let the NFL and owners save face, because let’s be realistic, they won’t vote for something coming out of their own pocket anyway. If a game were getting extra chippy, then a referee could suspend players for a number of plays before he is eligible to return. All of this would punish the people most culpable for the infractions without upsetting the balance on the field. Kind of like the penalty box in hockey, except without actually losing a man on the field.

As for the N-word. Have the NFL mandate a certain number of seminars and diversity training before they can be eligible to play. But the thought of the NFL exacting 540 inches of game field for every N-word thrown around is just stupid.

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