The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

February 26, 2014

Changing NFL culture comes with consequences



Isn’t it difficult when free speech and the title of Spike Lee’s masterpiece — “Do the Right Thing” — are at odds.

The voices are interesting.

Herm Edwards, the former NFL coach, player and now ESPN mouthpiece, has done his best to offer nothing helpful.

“If we want to clean it up … Seventy percent of the National Football League is black,” he said. “They can clean it up.”



Because whoever figured just because something could be cleaned up, that it would be cleaned up and simply left it to the offenders?

Wonder how well that approach would have worked among polluters in the 1970s?

Jason Whitlock, the polarizing columnist, writing for ESPN, has come down on the side of prohibition.

“I hope Roger Goodell and the NFL ignore the critics and impose a code of workplace conduct that forces young black men to abandon white supremacy’s greatest weapon,” he wrote.

I want to feel that way, too, because whenever I hear young black men use the word amongst each other, or even conjure the idea of the word being used in such a context, no matter how innocently, I always think, unwittingly, permission is being given for somebody else to use it not so innocently.

Then, almost immediately, the thought is tempered by another thought, the one that asks who elected me to decide what the best practices are for those whose history I simply don’t share.


It’s one thing to attempt to change culture and fail dramatically at great peril and cost. It’s another thing to attempt to change culture and pull it off. And it’s another thing still to back up and ask, “You know, who gets to decide the culture needs changing?”

Maybe, too, there’s the unfettered capitalistic approach.

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