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NFL 'N-word' penalties already in the rules, will be implemented in 2014

NFL N-word rule covered under unsportsmanlike conduct
NFL N-word rule covered under unsportsmanlike conduct
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There was a lot of controversy about whether a penalty to punish teams with a 15-yard penalty for using the "N-word" during a game. According to ESPN on March 19, the NFL doesn't need to get this slur rule passed because they said the rule is already in place and will be emphasized in the 2014 season.

The rule falls under the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and already included using "abusive or threatening or insulting language." This means that, despite the though that a new rule should be implemented, it was already supposed to be a 15-yard penalty for using the N-word during the games.

According to the competition committee, the rule will be a "a very significant point of emphasis" in the upcoming season and would include the N-word as well as racial slurs and comments about players' sexual orientation. Also against the rules would be "baiting officials" with verbal abuse.

The original controversy was that the rule was just going to target the N-word specifically, despite there being numerous other racial slurs that would not be covered. With this now covered under the unsportsmanlike conduct rules, anything that an official hears that sounds like abusive language can be hit with a 15-yard penalty.

Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay said the players will get clear definitions of the penalty before the season starts. St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it will be treated more like language in the workplace.