I've never uttered the "N" word in my life, or have any desire to do so. I don't approve of NFL players like Richie Incognito and Riley Cooper using the word, either, but I'm also a little uncomfortable offering an opinion on the subject. My personal background, growing up in North County San Diego, gives me very little insight into modern-day race issues in America.
That being said, I do feel very confident in one opinion: a proposed NFL rule that would attach a 15-yard penalty for use of the "N" word on the field of play is ridiculous.
Perhaps there's a noble spirit at work here, but in reality, the rule is a bad idea. NFL players say it's not uncommon to hear the "N" word on the field, but in nearly every case, it's one black player talking to another black player in a non-derogatory manner. If someone slips up on the field and uses the word during a critical moment, do we really want that to decide the outcome of a game? A playoff berth? A Super Bowl? Seasons have turned on things smaller than a 15-yard penalty.
Plus, the NFL looks pretty hypocritical when they attempt to legislate one racial slur from people's vocabulary, but openly embrace another racial slur as a team nickname in Washington, D.C.
Ultimately, though, the rule is simply unnecessary. Referees already have the authority to assess a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. If a player is on the field, and using the "N' word in a derogatory manner toward an opponent, that would certainly qualify as unsportsmanlike conduct in my book. Throw the flag. Problem solved...and without creating a dumb new rule.