Archived: ESPN Host Uses N-Word On the Air

By Chris Hoenig

ESPN host Michael Wilbon is so against the NFL’s consideration of a penalty for using the N-word on the field that he used the term on air to prove a point during a network show highlighting the common use of the N-word.

The league’s competition committee has already discussed the new rule—which would penalize teams 15 yards for a first offense and result in a player being ejected for a second infraction—and it is expected to be voted on by team owners in late March.

Reverend Al Sharpton, in a special column for the New York Daily News, said he sees the rule as “a good first step” but believes the penalties need to be harsher. “It ought to be immediate termination with the player having the right to all due process,” he wrote. “If we don’t take an unequivocal stand on the N-word, what happens when openly gay athletes are mocked with the F-word on the field or players use anti-Semitic or anti-Irish words. We must send a message that all derogatory words are unacceptable and will face maximum penalty.

“Any excuse is unacceptable.”

Wilbon, however, does see an excuse. During an episode of his show, Pardon the Interruption, Wilbon initially expressed his “massive problem” with the plan. “So you’re gonna have a league with no Black owners and a white commissioner—middle-aged and advanced-aged white men—say to Black players, mostly—because that’s what we’re talking about—’You can’t use the N-word on the field of play, or we’re gonna penalize you,'” he said.

“I’ve got a massive problem with that. I don’t think it’s gonna happen. I know there are Black men of the same age—John Wooten being one of them—who say, ‘No, you’ve got to take this word out of the workplace.’ I understand that. But I don’t want it enforced like this.”

He followed that up by appearing on Outside the Lines, another ESPN show, to discuss his earlier comments.

“I had somebody call me after we got into this discussion on PTI. And I had many somebodies—public figures, professional athletes, politicians, religious leaders—call me, and they would say—and I’m going to say exactly what was said to me— ‘My n****, I’m glad you said this. I’m glad you have that position.’ And they texted it, or wrote it, or spoke it on a voicemail.

“And it was absolutely endearing. And that is powerful. It is entirely, to me, about who uses it.”

Though a few people agreed with Wilbon’s position, many took to Twitter questioning his argument.

Latest News

Southern Company Builds on Transparency of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Efforts

Originally published at Southern Company ranked No. 19 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.   Consistent with its commitment to transparency and stakeholder engagement, Southern Company has published its 2021 Corporate Responsibility Executive Summary, refreshed key environmental, social and governance (ESG) data and published…

A Sysco truck with a branded message makes it way through traffic.

Sysco Shares Its First Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report

Originally published at    Sysco Corporation, the leading global foodservice distribution company, announced the launch of its 2022 Sustainability Report and the company’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Report. “Sustainability is an integral part of our business strategy, called the Recipe For Growth, to ensure we are growing responsibly and…

Toyota Recognizes Everyday Heroes at the espnW Summit

Originally published at Toyota Motor North America ranked No. 4 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.    The espnW: Women + Sports Summit in Ojai, California, presented by Toyota, Toyota and espnW announced the seventh class of Toyota Everyday Heroes. Toyota’s Everyday Heroes program…