Richard Sherman does not agree with the NFL's proposed ban on use of the N-word on the playing field, calling it an "atrocious idea" that is "almost racist."
The league's competition committee is expected to discuss a rule where players would be penalized 15 yards for using racial slurs on the field. Sherman lashed out at the proposal in a recent interview with themmqb.com, which surveyed three black players (Sherman, Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty and free-agent linebacker D'Qwell Jackson) on the proposal. Two of the three were against it, with only Jackson supporting the ban.
"It's an atrocious idea," Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks' star cornerback, told the website. "It's almost racist to me. It's weird they're targeting one specific word. Why wouldn't all curse words be banned then?"
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who serves on the competition committee, recently told ESPN.com that the league has discussed other slurs potentially coming under the ban as well, including homophobic slurs.
Sherman insisted that the N-word is not always used as a racial slur, especially among black players.
"It's in the locker room and on the field at all times," Sherman told themmqb.com. "I hear it almost every series out there on the field."
McCourty echoed the sentiments, saying the N-word is common for many players.
"It's a common word in so many players' everyday lives," he told themmqb.com. "Among African-American players and people, it's used among friends all the time. It seems like a bit much for the NFL to try to get rid of it. It's a pretty common word in the locker room."
Sherman and McCourty aren't the only players to express concern with the proposed rule.
John Wooten, a former NFL lineman and the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, doesn't think a 15-yard penalty is a strong enough punishment for use of the word and would prefer players having to face ejections for constant use of such language.
"I'll even accept the fact that they say we're going to warn them in preseason but during the [regular-season] games, if it comes up, we're going to take him to the sideline to the coach and tell the coach, 'Coach this a warning. Next time he's out of here.' I want it to be that drastic," Wooten told ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure during this past weekend's Black College Football Hall of Fame ceremonies in Atlanta.
"I want players to know and understand that it is the most vicious word in the language. It's about us, as a race of African-American people, have to continually make our youngsters understand that the word can't be endearing. The word was created to make you feel, as a black man, that you were inferior; that you were nothing; that you were sub-human; that you had no talents; that all you could do is pick cotton. This is what the word was intended for."
The NFL plans to address the issue and possibly move forward with a new rule if the measure meets approval at the owners' meetings, scheduled for March 23-26 in Orlando, Fla.
ESPN.com Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure contributed to this report.