Posted August 08, 2013

Lions teammates OK with use of racial slurs inside the locker room

Detroit Lions, NFC North
Two Detroit Lions players believe certain words are appropriate behind closed doors.

Two Lions players believe certain words are appropriate behind closed doors. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Is a racial slur used between friends still a racial slur? A couple of players in the Detroit Lions’ locker room are, somewhat inadvertently, putting that question to the test.

The Detroit News‘ Terry Foster wrote Thursday about the relationship between tight end Tony Scheffler and safety Louis Delmas, a friendship which dates back to their time together at Western Michigan in 2005. Scheffler spoke very highly of Delmas for a piece that ran right here on Audibles, and the pair shares what Foster calls “one of the tightest bonds in the Lions dressing room.”

So, what to make of this …

“Hey, cracker,” Delmas often says to Scheffler inside the Lions practice facility.

“How’s my n—–?” Scheffler replies.

Delmas is black. Scheffler is white.

Delmas said there is a difference between using slurs in public and doing it behind closed doors with a close friend you consider a brother, even if the brother is white.

“Me and [Scheffler] have a relationship many people do not have — both black and white,” Delmas said. “I look at him like my brother. I love him to death.

“He greets me, ‘What up, n—–?’ But I understand it. So I say, ‘What’s up, cracker?’ But we would never take it outside the building.”

In an increasingly-PC world, the lighthearted back and forth between Scheffler and Delmas seems to walk a very tenuous line. The recent incident involving Eagles WR Riley Cooper, in which he was caught on tape using the n-word and was subsequently excused from Eagles practices for a few days to undergo counseling, turned Cooper into something of a pariah, even within the Philadelphia locker room.

Scheffler’s use of that taboo word is Delmas-approved and done in a much more affectionate manner. But does that make it OK?

120 comments
Sportsnut888
Sportsnut888

If it's between the two of them and no one else is offended inside the locker room, who are we to judge? Has our society (unfortnuately) become so PC that banter between close friends is no longer acceptable? 

JDub81
JDub81

Maybe if the Lions concentrated on winning games instead of hurling racial slurs....Winning the Super Bowl would be the main story for them. They are who they are.

southaustin
southaustin

It's the intent behind the words   that offends people. In this case the two  are clearly close friends so they have a lot of latitude when they talk to each other.  The question is whether some words are so bad that it should not be OK to say  them  even if used jokingly between friends.For example, if  we had these two   players  refer to each other with an offensive term for gay instead would the people that think the racial terms were OK in this context feel the same ?

MikeWilliams1
MikeWilliams1

Question...why is the n----- word hyphened out and cracker not both are racial slurs are they not what gives anybody the right to decide which one is more or less offensive?! Just saying something of food for thought while we are talking about race.

sage80_wanker
sage80_wanker

It makes it none of your business. Who do you think you are to gain info about another person's conversation, & then ask the world if it is ok that the person's personal conversations contain content you happen to not like? Are you serious? This is only a story for ppl in media. no one else cares. you aren't heroic by trying to point it out. You're ambulance-chasing, & looking for recognition. What you're doing is much worse.

6marK6
6marK6

I wish they would stop these hot button stories, all it does is allow closet racists to vent. And it is the same misguided arguments.

6marK6
6marK6

Oh yes, the Lions do it and you can see how well it translates into their success on and off the field.

YemiThaBassMan
YemiThaBassMan

Why is the racial slur usually directed at white people shown in print, but the one directed at black people isn't? 

I mean, if we're going to show the slurs in print, show all of them. Don't give the "N-word" special treatment. 

TigerAl
TigerAl

I hope this isn't the start of another 50 year curse...

netwulf
netwulf

I think you miss the context.  The two people in this article are close and there is no intent to hurt each other.

Cooper was using the N-word intentionally to put the security guard down.

Intent to hurt or put down is what gives either cracker or the N-word the stigma/power.

For myself - regardless if I'm with friends or not - I don't use either word.  I know enough about the history of both words that I've come to a personal decision not to use either word in private or public.

Delmas & Scheffler feel differently but that's their business - not mine.

mannythegoat
mannythegoat

Yes, that makes it okay.

But the piece is incomplete because you decided to use asterisks instead of the word. We don't know if Scheffler says "en i gee gee ee ar" or if he says "en i gee gee a".  Sooner or later the world is going to have to acknowledge the difference. Just because the first one is occasionally pronounced like the second one doesn't mean that we should ignore the fact that they are different words with different meanings. People are too lazy to look at the context and then decide how they feel. I'm white and plenty of my black friends have called me a n*gga. And I'm completely comfortable using it right back. But I've never called anyone a n*gger in my life. 

rifleman
rifleman

But what happens if a guy (black or white) asks a girl "How's my b*tch doing?"  Or "What's up h*e?"

RickyGrover
RickyGrover

“Hey, cracker,” Delmas often says to Scheffler inside the Lions practice facility.

“How’s my n—–?” Scheffler replies.

Wait hold on a sec, why is cr---er spelled out and n----- is censored ? 

usameos6
usameos6

Totally unrelated - but if someone read you this story without saying what team was involved and you had to guess - wouldn't the first guess be the Lions?  I think they've taken the crown from the Bengals as the team most likely to be involved in a non-football related controversial story.

riley8
riley8

“He greets me, ‘What up, n—–?’ But I understand it. So I say, ‘What’s up, cracker?’ But we would never take it outside the building.”


Except when being interviewed about it of course.

NinersGiantsWarriors
NinersGiantsWarriors

It's a personal opinion, there is no right answer. I am white and have been referred to as "my N*%&$" by black friends (A-not ER), but I would never do what Scheffler does (wouldn't want to). Please don't compare this story to Riley Cooper's. He used the N-bomb in hate. He tried to say the most visceral thing he could to demean and belittle the security guard. When I played ball in high school I guarded a guy who is still in the NBA, he called me cracker probably 20 times during the game. Cracker is not the same thing and will never be the same thing. He shouldn't have used those words, but that's on him. White people complaining about it being unfair they can't use the N-bomb need to be realistic. Use the word if you want, just don't be surprised when people don't approve. 

ScottyJ
ScottyJ

not just no but HELL NO!  You can't say for this situation it is OK but in this situation it is not OK, either it is or it is not OK to say!   I don't think I have ever met in my life, a slave.  My great grandfather was persecuted  for religious beliefs and had to hide out of fear for his life.  I don't have a time machine to go back and change the past so maybe it is time to move on and develop a little respect for other people, treat them like you want to be treated!

James142
James142

Why would anyone ever call a white person "Cracker"? As in whip-cracker? That almost never happened. Crackers were almost always some uncle-tom house N. Use Uncle Tom and cracker interchangeably if you wish. Ignoramus using it, and ignoramus writing about him. 

leon1376
leon1376

Blacks know that whites have forever picked up on black slang and incorporated it into their everyday speech. For this reason I think a lot of blacks have baited whites with the "n-word" by saying it so much and giving  whites the idea that it's okay to say it as well. Then the white person says the "n-word" and immediately loses their job and everything they've worked for. No chance to apologize. Of course this makes blacks feel better about themselves because another "racist" went down, but at the end of the day, when they look in the mirror, nothing's changed. They are still who they are. 

jts05
jts05

What goes on in that room between teamates has nothing to do with the world outside. I can't even believe they would approve of you writing about it.How bout the odd feel good story instead of stirring the pot. Must be a boring training camp up until this point. Go Bills

southaustin
southaustin

@MikeWilliams1 False equivalence in the case of the word cracker because it has another legitimate meaning. Calling a black person a monkey is very racist and offensive  but the world isn't hyphened out because like cracker it has another legitimate meaning. The convention is there mostly because on many sites  comments are moderated by machines that filter on certain key words -  the n word is usually one of them, cracker is usually not.

Riley E. Coyote
Riley E. Coyote

@YemiThaBassMan When did blacks enslave whites, whip them, rape them, make them work in ungodly conditions, often treating them worse than animals, all the while calling them crackers? Big difference.

John52
John52

@netwulf Exactly.  Plus, Cooper was using it against a working class guy just trying to do his job.

BillieBob
BillieBob

@rifleman 

I think it's the same thing. If it's used in humor by two people who know, respect and trust each other, then then meaning is different. Context is everything...

southaustin
southaustin

@RickyGrover The n word is hyphened out because many web sites use filters that key on certain words  and reject comments with  them.  It's become a convention to write it that way even when a filter is not an issue.  Cracker on the other hand has another meaning that's not offensive . These filters look for words that are considered offensive or are associated with porn etc  . The filters aren't smart enough to determine the context of words that have dual meanings .

Riley E. Coyote
Riley E. Coyote

@RickyGroverWhen did blacks enslave whites, whip them, rape them, make them work in ungodly conditions, often treating them worse than animals, all the while calling them crackers? Big difference.

zeuster
zeuster

@RickyGrover   Because its a white writer and hes afraid he is going to get fired!


Tommy D
Tommy D

@RickyGrover because its okay for the blacks 2 be racist. Nothing is ever said when they use racist remarks. But let a white person make a racist remark, and its like its the end of the world. Also, the definition for the N - word is, - "a useless person." It does not specify any particular race. So this word could describe a person of any color.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@NinersGiantsWarriorsSome of my white friends refer to each other as 'my n!66as', with no black person around or involved. Of course, it's because rap music is ubiquitous and it's conventions are a part of our culture now. As far as I'm concerned, 'control' of the word was lost when blacks started selling it to whites in the form of music 'culture'. It's all about the tone and intention now. As far as the word 'cracker' is concerned, can anyone find me a white person that doesn't laugh out loud at that supposed 'insult'. It just doesn't resonate...

Riley E. Coyote
Riley E. Coyote

@James142 What color are crackers? And I'm not talking about Ritz's either, it's the kind you get with a bowl of soup at your local diner!

mbroncofan
mbroncofan

@Riley E. Coyote @YemiThaBassMan Gee...I don't think there is one white man in this country that did that.  That's the problem...people need to remember, but move on.  Right now, Germany would be a part of Israel if they didn't.  

I'm not about to condone any type of behavior exhibited towards the slaves...but that is an argument that is getting pretty old.  What about the 3 kids that beat the crap out of the white kid the other day in Florida?  Not too much said there was there.  All I'm saying is keep it in perspective.  Your argument from 150 years ago just doesn't wash any more.

mannythegoat
mannythegoat

@Tommy D @RickyGrover You made up that definition of the N word (it's a made up definition, and it makes you as silly as the people that think it means "ignorant"). Check your etymology.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@Tommy D @RickyGrover How old are you? 10?  Humans past that age are supposed to start thinking abstractly but apparently some of us don't

NinersGiantsWarriors
NinersGiantsWarriors

@Joebuckster I don't think it's accurate to say "blacks started selling whites in the form of music culture". Sure I've bought Cd's out of trunks of independent black artists here in SF, but for the most part music is controlled by the higher ups. Forget race, Industry is controlled by business people with business minds, not by "black people" in general. As to your friends....Do you think they would refer to each other like that in a predominately black neighborhood? 

Melungeon
Melungeon

@BelayFelton @mbroncofan @Riley E. Coyote @YemiThaBassMan There were over 3000 free Black men that owned nearly 13,000 Black slaves in 1830. The largest plantation in SC was owned by a free Black man. Native tribes bought, sold, traded, and owned Black slaves. The Cherokee were the last people in N. America to abolish slavery. Not to mention there would have never been a trans-atlantic slave trade had Black Africans not sold their own people. Who's worse, the woman that buys a baby, or the woman that sells her own baby? 

mbroncofan
mbroncofan

@BelayFelton @mbroncofan @Riley E. Coyote @YemiThaBassMan Look, the last thing I ever want to do is trivialize your ancestors.  But my point is, YOU never suffered...it was your ancestors.  By your logic, I should be compensated, etc for the religious persecution and slavery of MY ancestors hundreds and hundreds of years ago when WHITE people suffered the same plight as blacks did more recently.  Go back in history...white slavery and persecution was just as bad...if not worse. 

BelayFelton
BelayFelton

@mbroncofan @Riley E. Coyote @YemiThaBassMan@mbroncofan Whites are so quick to say, 'I never owned slaves or slavery was a long time ago get over it'. It is easy for you to say move on, but the slaves were my relatives that die for your ancestors greed. The reason I'm here in America is because of slavery. I carry the slave master's last name and his plantation still stands today in Macon County GA. How can I just get over it! This country never did right by black people at any point after slavery. 

Riley E. Coyote
Riley E. Coyote

@mbroncofan @Riley E. Coyote @YemiThaBassMan When you're discussing the origin of a word, you must go back to see where it came from, so it is relevant to talk about something that happened 150 years ago! I don't condone using said word, not at all, but it's apples and oranges to compare the n-word to the word "cracker".