Monday, September 22, 2014

The First Amendment and the New NFL

                Colin Kaepernick has just been fined $11,000 by the NFL for using an offensive word during the game. It wasn’t a 4-letter word or a curse word, just one deemed “inappropriate” by an on-field official. Many, if not most plays, end with one or more players of both teams pushing and shoving and “trash-talking” in the heat of the battle. I’m an old school guy and not a big fan of trash-talking, but it is literally a big part of the game today, as players try to gain the psychological advantage on their counterpart, express frustration, or, apparently, just have fun.

                A favorite cliché  when I was in school, back in the day, was “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words (or names) will never hurt me!”. This was because almost all kids, boys and girls, were constantly teasing one another. It was a way of connecting, of being heard, of playing, and, in some cases (usually boy-girl) of showing the object of your banter that you actually kinda liked them.

                I know I used the word/term that Colin Kaepernick did on more than one occasion. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it doesn’t make it criminal. Had it directed at me several times as well. Just shook it off as back and forth teasing. Guess we grade-schoolers of that day- boys and girls-  were  mentally tougher than these modern-day muscled NFL behemoths. Or at least tougher than the NFL, and its rules committee and referees think they are, or now ought to be.

                Mike Priefer, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator was forced to complete “sensitivity training” and was suspended two games for making what the Vikings determined was an inappropriate comment during a 2012 team meeting.

                This is truly scary, folks. Who determines what is an inappropriate remark? This isn’t just subjective, it’s totalitarian.

                Back to Colin Kaepernick. Almost all instances that have led to fines in the NFL have been penalized on the field at the time, as well.

                We know that almost nothing is allowed on an NFL field anymore. Can’t head-slap, cross-block, chop-block, crack-back, etc. Can’t target the head, or the knees, or block from the back, hit helmet-to-helmet, grab the face-mask, or the jersey collar, put hands to the face or taunt your opponent. The defensive back can’t come within five yards of the receiver without yelling loudly “here I come, are you ready?!” and presenting  him with a lovely floral arrangement and a gift certificate to Applebees.

                That said, what will be the penalties for on-field “inappropriate or insensitive, non-inclusive language” going forward? Who will enforce these penalties? Said penalties will have to be enforced in a consistent manner, or chaos will reign. Might personal bias not enter in?

                As for me, I’m glad  First Amendment protections are out the window. I find it hard to figure out what to say when I have so many options.

                Anyway, to help the NFL, here are my suggested “illegal use of the language” penalties… if one player says these words/phrases to another player on the opposing team in an accusatory manner:

                “bubble butt”- 5 yard penalty

                “Poopie-pants”- 10 yard penalty, loss of down

                “your mother wears combat boots”- 10 yard penalty

                “you really are a Richard”- 15 yard penalty                                                                                                                                                                                                               “tea-bagger(s)”- no penalty, flag picked up…perfectly acceptable

                “F-g, f-g—t”- 30 yard penalty, automatic first down, ritual execution of the perpetrator, his family and his team’s coaching staff, possible beheading.






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