Michael Wilbon used the N-word during a live interview on ESPN's Outside The Lines, saying it proved a point about how the NFL cannot effectively ban the word from the league.
The league is reportedly considering making it an automatic 15-yard penalty if a player uses the N-word on the field. A second infraction would warrant an ejection from the game, CBS Sports reported.
The word has already been barred in other places. Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney has told players that he doesn't want them using the N-word in the locker room, for example.
Michael Wilbon has argued that it would be good to remove the word from the game, but is very difficult to enforce.
"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," Wilbon said on his show, Pardon The Interruption. "I've got a massive problem with that. I know there are black men of the same age… 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."
But Michael Wilbon took his point further during a visit to ESPN's Outside The Lines. During the interview, Wilbon said he has received many phone calls from people who said he said told him: "My n***a, I'm glad you said this. I'm glad you have this position."
Wilbon added that he and his friends say the word, and that it is all about context.
"It was absolutely endearing," Wilbon said. "It is entirely to me about who uses it."
Others seem to back up the point Michael Wilbon raised. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark said the team's players honored the N-word ban at first, but reverted to using it because it is an ingrained way of communicating.