The National Football League just finished one of the most extensive and thorough combines it has ever had and decided the time was right to launch a campaign to ban the use of the racial slur “N-word” and also the infamous “F-word,” slang for homosexual. reported last week in conjunction with this idea that the head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity in the NFL, expects the league to institute a rule where players would be penalized 15 yards for using the N-word on the field.

Former NFL offensive lineman John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, anticipates that the NFL’s Competition Committee will enact the rule at the owner’s meeting later this month.

“I will be totally shocked if the Competition Committee does not uphold us on what we’re trying to do,” Wooten said. “I think the NFL is going to do what it needs to be done here. There’s too much disrespect in the game.”

The NFL Players Association also has been talking about both situations because the NFL expects the first openly gay player, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam, to be drafted next month and wants to nip this situation in the bud.

NFLPA executive George Atallah said banishment of the N-word and F-word are being discussed at this time and can’t say any more on the subject.

A recent ESPN poll of 51 NFL players revealed that 86 per cent say a teammate’s sexual preference didn’t matter to them, but only 49 per cent believe that an openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room. However, extra-sensitivity training for players already is happening.

Benjamin Hochman wrote in a Denver Post article last week, “I’d love to eviscerate the (N) word from our vernacular. The NFL might try to keep its players from using the word by handing out a 15-yard penalty.

“I think it’s a noble, progressive idea, but I think the league should instead fine players who use the word on the field—unless, of course, the usage of the word is so excessive it deserves an unsportsmanlike penalty.

“The NFL’s goal is twofold—to end the use of the word on the field of play and to make a powerful statement to fans that it’s trying to curtail use of the word. Fining players seems more efficient and fair than throwing a penalty flag which could affect the outcome of the game.

“In addition to handing out fines, take steps by featuring your most popular players in public service announcements—creative, cool commercials. Get larger-than-life rappers in there, too, and pretty actresses and models. Use these people and their platform to inspire change.”

Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney has already handled the situation with his players. He told them they will not use the N-word on the field in the heat of competition, on the sidelines just talking to one another, in the locker room and will not tolerate any music blaring over the speakers either on the practice field or in the locker room that uses the word.

The well-respected team owner didn’t say “or what” and probably delivered his message so he didn’t have to expound on it at all.

There are some black athletes who disagree with the NFL’s idea, like Denver Broncos defensive back Terrance Knighton. “The idea of penalizing us for using the N-word is a terrible idea. The N-word is not always used in a negative light, and is a word that African-Americans use amongst our peers in a positive light,” he pointed out.

“The N-word is used in motivational speeches and is also used as a substitute for friend, buddy, and is a word African-Americans have used since we were young. So it is close to impossible for it not to be used, because it’s almost second nature to say it,” Knighton concluded.

Former NBA star, Hall of Famer and television analyst Charles Barkley admitted to that he uses the N-word all the time and thinks nothing of it because it is not said in a derogatory manner.

The NFL Competition Committee is meeting this week in Naples, Fla. to decide what they will present to the owners at the league meetings later this month.

“We will go down to Naples this week and spend more time talking about it,” commented Baltimore Ravens’ general manager Ozzie Newsome, who is on the league’s Competition Committee.

“We will have some game officials at the meeting that actually hear the language out there on the field during the games. We will present something to our owners later this month in Orlando,” Newsome promised.

A rule change must be ratified by 24 of the 32 team owners.

I wonder if one of the new skill positions on an NFL team will be a ventriloquist who can throw his voice???

KWICKIES…The West Orange-Stark Mustangs hopes of reaching the finals in the state boys’ basketball playoffs were dashed by those Rattlers from Navasota, who edged past the ‘Stangs 65-61 Friday night in the Class 3A Region III semifinals at Huntsville. These were the same Rattlers who ended the Mustangs’ football season in 2012. But WO-S had one of their best basketball seasons, finishing as the District 21-3A champions with a 28-9 mark. However, 10 of the Mustangs are seniors and played their final game Friday night.

The only area team headed to Austin this week is the No.10-ranked Beaumont Central Jaguars (31-4) who will meet No. 15 Dallas Kimball (24-7) 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thurs.) in the  Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas in Austin in the Class 4A Boys Basketball State Tournament’s semifinal round.

Houston Manvel snapped Duncanville’s 105-game winning streak with a 58-53 victory Saturday night to claim the Class 5A UIL girls’ state basketball tournament in Austin. Duncanville had defeated the Manvel Mavericks in the McDonald’s Texas Invitational championship game in November by overcoming a 16-point Maverick lead.

Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning received clearance to play the 2014 season after passing a neck examination Monday. Manning was the 2013 MVP and also the losing quarterback in last month’s Super Bowl XLVIII.

Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt will officially retire as Houston Astros in a pre-game ceremony Saturday April 5 at Minute Maid Park.

Rory McIlroy, who led last weekend’s PGA Tour Honda Classic for the first three rounds ran into trouble Sunday and shot a four-over-par 74 to land in a four-way playoff. Russell Henley birdied the first extra hole to win the $1.08 million check for first place. McIlroy settled for a “measly” check for $448,000 along with Russell Knox and Ryan Palmer. Tiger Woods, who was not in contention for the tour victory, was forced to withdraw halfway through the final round with back spasms.

The 2013-14 basketball campaign will mercifully end this week for the Lamar men’s team which stands at 3-25 for the season and 2-14 in the Southland Conference’s 14-team cellar. However the Lady Cardinals fare much better, currently tied for second place with SFA in the SLC with 11-5 marks. The top two teams receive byes in next week’s SLC tournament until the semifinal round.

JUST BETWEEN US…Orange’s Super Bowl Champion Earl Thomas III launched his ETIII Guardian Angel Foundation last week at Granger Chevrolet in an effort to help the Orange area’s less fortunate children. “The foundation will be able to help those in need with school supplies,” the Seattle Seahawks’ three-time All-Pro safety told the crowd. “I also want to set up scholarships for band, sports and academics. So many people helped me and that is why I want to give back any way I can.” A live auction was held at Granger’s Thursday and Thomas signed autographs and posed for photos. Funds from the auction, autographs and pictures will benefit the foundation.