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February 26, 2014

Changing NFL culture comes with consequences

NORMAN — Of all the theories why the United States chose to invade Iraq, one that stands up over time is the misguided assumption that, if democracy could take hold in that country, the entire region could change.

It can be argued, given the lack of WMD, the cost, human and monetary, to say nothing of the geo-political consequences beyond Iraq, that the operation, all these years later, has been entirely regrettable.

On the other hand, nobody seems too upset any more about what Roger Goodell has done since becoming NFL commissioner, perhaps most notably reserving the right to enforce discipline on the field for bad behavior transgressed off it.

Pacman Jones, the seeming poster boy for the policy, after being suspended for all of 2007 and part of 2008, has managed to remain in the league, pretty much without incident, since.

Ben Roethlisberger, though he escaped criminal prosecution, missed part of the 2010 season after being investigated for an incident occurring in the restroom of a nightclub. Since serving his suspension, he’s not embarrassed himself, his team nor the game.

The lesson?

Changing culture’s no picnic. But if you can pull it off, and for the better, you will not look silly, nor must you apologize for your heavy-handed tactics afterward

The neocons may not have apoligized but they’ve been pretty much laughed out of the public square. The NFL, however, is a world apart, a place where being preemptive and proactive has worked. 

Given that, perhaps as a response to the Wells report, which sought to detail the flap between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin as Miami Dolphins linemen last season, the NFL is thinking about taking a bigger stand in the culture wars, daring to suspend use of the N-word, at least on the field, at the cost of a 15-yard penalty.

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