The N-word and sports, in particular, have long made for a toxic combination.
Written By Bruce C.T. Wright
Photo: Ron Jenkins / Getty
he N-word is at the center of a budding scandal after a white Texas college football coach used the racist epithet (hard R and all) while confronting a Black player during a recent practice session this past weekend. But the coach says context matters and that he did not use the word with racist intentions.
The entire incident at Texas Christian University (TCU) prompted the players to boycott practice on Monday as college football’s upcoming uncertain season remained tentative because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dylan Jordan, a linebacker with the TCU Horned Frogs, was singled out on Friday by Coach Gary Patterson for being “a f-cking brat” and using the N-word among his teammates.
“You’ve been saying [N-word] in the meeting room,” Patterson said Jordan told him while actually using the ugly 6-letter word instead of replacing it with the “N-word” euphemism.
Patterson reportedly explained to the team that he “wasn’t calling him [Jordan] a [N-word],” but the damage had already been done. The Star-Telegram compiled a number of tweets from TCU football players who expressed their anger and dismay at Patterson’s choice of language that came as the nation has been actively protesting racism for months.
Kellton Holmes, an offensive lineman at TCU, tweeted that players made the coach aware of the impact his choice of words had.
“Regardless of the context, the word is unacceptable to use but even more so in today’s climate,” Holmes tweeted. “As a team, we will continue to hold coaches and everyone accountable especially as it pertains to the injustices of America.”
As a leadership council, we have spoken with Coach P about the events of today. We have discussed ways to move forward while keeping in mind the mental health of the football team. Coach P understands the significance of what he said.— Kellton Hollins (@KelltonHollins) August 4, 2020
Not all the players felt like Holmes did. Some said the incident has been “misconstrued” and blown out of proportion.
“We all know what was said and I will not speak on it because what he said was wrong, but it was misconstrued,” Trevon Moehrig, a safety for the TCU football team, tweeted in part. “What I will say is that I know the kind of person Coach P is and where his heart is at. I also know the situation and what occurred unlike most of y’all. He has done so much for me and players before me. The media is eating this up cause it’s another story for them to get attention.”
The N-word has been just as polarizing in sports as it is anywhere else. It’s especially been an issue in the sports world, prompting the NFL to officially ban its use specifically from the paying field. However, history shows that a white coach using the N-word behind closed doors, like Patterson is accused of doing, is nothing new.
One former assistant coach for Clemson University apologized in June for using the word while speaking to a player in 2017. The situation that Danny Pearman found himself in was remarkably similar to the incident at TCU.
“Three years ago on the practice field, I made a grave mistake involving D.J. Greenlee,” Pearman tweeted June 2. “I repeated a racial slur I overheard when trying to stop the word from being used on the practice field. What I overheard, I had no right to repeat.”