RUSH: Now to the National Football League and the N-word. We left off in this saga yesterday with discussion of John Wooten, who is the head honcho at the Fritz Pollard Alliance. Fritz Pollard was the first African-American coach in the NFL some 75 years ago. John Wooten made the remark yesterday that back when he played for the Cleveland Browns, it was during the days of segregation in the fifties and sixties.
But he wants to take the league back to those days when it was, compared to today, clean and pure as the wind-driven snow. There was morality on parade. It was just a healthier, more wholesome game. He wants to take it back there, and he said what really upset him, what really got this notion going… He’s the impetus behind the requested rule change to penalize the usage of the N-word on the field during games.
This has drawn much reaction from throughout the league, from players and media, who say it’d be impossible to police this. Besides that, the black guys are saying, “Hey, it’s our word. It’s a term of endearment. We’re not going to have a bunch of white guys telling us what we can and can’t say. Screw that!” Mr. Wooten, however, is black. But he said something yesterday I had to go look up. He said the incident that really spawned this latest effort to ban the N-word was what happened in Eagles-Redskins game.
I said, “What was that?”
So last night I found out what it was. That Redskins-Eagles game last season was in November, and a tackle for the Redskins, Trent Williams, claimed that one of the referees, the umpire, called him the N-word. They’re both African-American. The player, Trent Williams, claimed that the umpire, Roy Ellison, called him the N-word. The Fritz Pollard Alliance said that Ellison’s words, the ref, was only reacting, that the player had called him the N-word first.
So it was an argument over who had first accused the other of being the N-word, but the ref being involved, that’s the final straw. When the ref starts calling people that, even if it is another African-American, that’s going too far. Trent Williams, for the record, denied the allegation. He denied that he called the ref the N-word. He said (paraphrased), “I’d have been thrown out of the game. They’d have thrown a flag on that.” So we’re now back to Ryan Clark, No. 25, safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now, Ryan Clark said to the Pittsburgh media over the weekend that No. 24, Ike Taylor, cornerback for the Steelers, is very, very close to the Steelers owner, Dan Rooney, and that Dan Rooney had gone to Ike Taylor and said (paraphrased), “You know, you guys are too young to know but you gotta get the N-word outta here. I don’t want to hear it in the locker room. I don’t want to hear it on the field. I don’t want to hear it in the music in the locker room. I just don’t want to hear it. You guys are above that and I just don’t want to hear it.”
And Ryan Clark said that there was so much respect for Mr. Rooney, because the black players know he’s down for the struggle. There’s the Rooney Rule. He campaigned for Obama, hired African-American coach Mike Tomlin. There’s profound respect for Mr. Rooney, and for two or three days nobody used the N-word in the Steelers locker room. But then it started up again — and it was the young guys.
Ryan Clark said, “Hey, you know, it’s just their culture. We’re not gonna be able to stop it. It’s how they’ve been raised. We’re not gonna be able to stop it.” Well, this has led to, apparently, some misunderstandings. So Ryan Clark went on ESPN Radio’s “The N-word,” to clarify his remarks. That was this morning on the radio, and he was asked once again to tell the story about Ike Taylor and the Rooneys, that at one point they had the N-word banned in the Steelers locker room.
CLARK: The story’s kind of gotten some legs. He didn’t necessarily have a banned. He brought Ike Taylor up, who has a unique relationship with Mr. Rooney. You know, he calls him Paw Paw, and, you know, they got secret handshakes and different things like that. I actually walked by during the conversation, and he was just telling him, “Hey, look, people fought against that word. The origin of that word is demeaning.” He was there during the civil rights movement, so he knows people who fought against that, and he was like, “You guys shouldn’t be using it.” He’s like, “You should understand that it wasn’t meant as a term of endearment. It wasn’t meant to be used the way you guys are using it and never as much. So you guys should try to get away from it.”
RUSH: That was Ryan Clark describing Mr. Rooney talking to Ike Taylor, number 24, cornerback for the Steelers. And in the next bite, Ryan Clark said: Is Rooney down for the struggle? He has earned the right to tell people, black people, what to say. Mr. Rooney has total credibility here, down for the struggle, civil rights movement and all that, and black players will listen to Mr. Rooney, but they’re not gonna listen to a bunch of white referees.
CLARK: Mr. Rooney has earned the right to speak on anything he wants to, but especially that word, not only being instrumental in the Rooney Rule being implemented into the NFL but by the way he treats us as people, not as athletes, but as people, by the way he treats Coach Tomlin. Even though I don’t necessarily agree that it’s a term of endearment, it’s used in that way, and a white referee comes in and says, “I’m throwing the flag on you ’cause I heard you use the N-word,” I would absolutely lose it. A black coach would also be pretty upset if he got a 15-yard penalty ’cause two of his guys were talking to each other and they threw a flag on him.
RUSH: So, where are we here on this, now? Well, in the Steelers, example, I guess, it’s okay for Mr. Rooney to tell his guys don’t use it, he’s down for the struggle, he’s got his bona fides, but you not gonna have a bunch of white refs throwing the flag on brothers for using the N-word. That is intolerable, isn’t gonna happen, and Coach Tomlin, a black coach, would be livid if a bunch of refs started throwing flags on two of his players talking to each other using the word. Not even the other team, just talking to each other. I understand if the proposed rule would ban the word no matter who, what, when, where. (interruption) The what? No. The solution is not obvious. Oh, I see what you’re saying. Okay. All right. Maybe there is a solution.
Maybe each team should have designated players who are permitted to use the word, is that what you’re saying? Designated referees. Well, now, wait. Now, wait. Wait. There certainly were some white referees that were down for the struggle. You got some white referees. So you want a designated N-word referee. You’re not gonna add that burden to existing referees. You’re gonna have a new referee. So you’re gonna have eight refs on the field instead of seven, and one of them is exclusively charged with listening for the N-word, whenever he hears it. And he’s accredited, he’s down for the struggle, he’s got total respect. (Interruption) A hundred percent proved slave blood.
So when he throws the flag there’s no challenging him. This guy’s got the credibility to do it. Problem solved, you think that’s the solution? (Interruption) Ha. Yeah, I think this is too Draconian. I think you gotta start and incrementally do this. I’d say each team’s allowed three N-words a game, and that’s against other players on the other team, and they can’t be white. Whites can never use it. (interruption) There is no half white or half black, if you’re half white and half black, you’re black. So you are permitted. But the white player never, ever, can’t use it, but there will be designated, like two or three times a game it can be used. (Interruption) Pregame meeting, the referees inform the teams which one is the accredited N-word ref, and the teams tell the ref which players on the team are the accredited users of the N-word two or three times a game, and then if you go beyond the limit, then the flag gets thrown.
Okay. Reggie Miller, who is a former guard for the Indiana Pacers, was on Dan Patrick’s radio show. He said, “I’ve had a hard time really understanding how anybody’s gonna police this, Reggie.”
MILLER: You can’t. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in my life. What the NFL is trying to do is subjectively trying to tell the players: clean your act up, if at all this is going on. Now, again, I’m sure — the NFL has mics everywhere, right? Is this being picked up on NFL Films? Why all of a sudden is this a big deal?
RUSH: Bingo! Bingo! Well, it’s the Fritz Pollard Alliance. They can tell you why it’s a big deal. Happened between the ref and the Redskins player. That’s what they would say. But you know what I find interesting? Seriously, folks. We’re listening to quite a few people make the case for the use of that word. That word is universally despised, prohibited, un-allowed, and we are in the midst — look at what’s happening here. It is already the political correctness law of the land. You do not use the word, and if you do, all hell is gonna descend upon you. And in the midst of that, here come advocates for the use of the word. I think it’s an interesting sociological fact.
RUSH: You know, folks, if I ever did realize my dream and if I ever owned an NFL team — I don’t think I’d want to anymore, actually. But if I did, if I ever owned an NFL team, I would be on the lookout for the best ventriloquist player I could find. Can make it look like other people — you know, a ventriloquist, one of the things they can do is throw their voice, not only not move their lips, they throw their voice, make it look like somebody else. Can you imagine, I could mop up! I’d get half the other team thrown out in the first quarter! Just get a great ventriloquist, one on offense and one on defense, and I could mop up. I’ll discuss this with Coach Belichick. He might have some thoughts on it.
Here’s Reggie Miller, one more bite. Dan Patrick, the N-word. Question: “Let me break this down to the absolute core. Would African-American players want a white commissioner to tell them what they are allowed to say?”
MILLER: Number one, we didn’t make up the word in the first place. You made up the word. Now you’re gonna tell us we can’t use the word. It doesn’t make any sense. So no, they probably would not want a white commissioner saying, “Oh, you can’t say that word.”
RUSH: Well, then you haven’t made any racial progress at all. I’m being dead serious here. If it matters, if it matters like this, then there’s no progress that has been made, pure and simple, flat-out, case closed. If it’s gonna come down to that. This whole thing really is fascinating, folks, when you look at what’s being done here. There is literal advocacy for the use of that word taking place. There are people advocating for the use of that word, yet let me utter it in the next 30 minutes and watch what happens to me.
One more sound bite and we’ll come back, get to the phones. Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman was on the CBS Sports network show, Jim Rome, The N-Word. And Jim Rome said, “Certainly it is a work place. People are going to work, and they are getting paid, and they should be treated with respect. But is it a workplace like where we go to work?” The football locker room, is it like our office, is the field like our office? This is Jeff Pearlman here, a sports author.
PEARLMAN: What they really, really need to focus on also are gay slurs, which are probably more prominent than racist slurs in the NFL, as far as what you call another player. There’s a certain word that’s used all the time, nonstop, in locker rooms in all the sports that I think they really, especially with Michael Sam, need to crack down on.
RUSH: So, as I mentioned the top of the program, it’s not really the N-word according to Mr. Pearlman, who I’m sure represents the thinking of many sportswriters. The real problem is the F-word. The real problem is the gay slurs. And everybody’s using ’em. And that’s what the NFL’s gotta crack down on.
RUSH: To Ashburn, Virginia, and Chad. Welcome, sir, to the Rush Limbaugh program. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. Afternoon, I guess. I was wondering if an NFL player identifies as African-American, does the N-word, will there still be a penalty for it?
RUSH: Wait a minute. If an NFL player identifies an African-American —
CALLER: A white NFL player, but he identifies as black.
RUSH: You mean like Incognito was said to have been an honorary black guy. Is that what you mean?
RUSH: So you got an honorary black guy on the team, can he use the N-word?
CALLER: He identifies with the black half.
RUSH: How would he do that?
CALLER: If I’m a child in California and I identify as a girl, that’s all you need. It’s how you feel.
RUSH: Oh. Yeah, ’cause you have to fill out the form now and then. You’re white, “but I feel like I’m black so I actually identify as an African-American.” ‘Cause what happens if a player, let’s say an offensive tackle is going to be eligible to catch a pass on a particular play, that player has to report to the referee that he’s tackle eligible in the play that’s coming up. And sometimes the referees will get on the PA system and say, “Number 78 has reported as eligible,” but they have to do it. So what I was thinking you meant was that if a white player wanted to identify as black, when he goes on the field he has to tell the official that he’s identifying as an African-American, just the same as reporting in as eligible.
CALLER: Have to consider that it could change from the time, but that’s an option.
RUSH: Well, it’s an interesting wrinkle. Because with our feelings-based culture, I can see where it might happen. Hell. Heck. The way it’s going, anything could. Thanks, Chad.