NFL to Take no Action on Tank Carder 'faggot' Tweets

Browns quiet on the topic

NFL players can use gay slurs in public with no cost to them, though the league is still making progress on LGBT issues. Will education come from this?

The NFL told Outsports it will take no action regarding the anti-gay tweets of Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Tank Carder, whose "faggot" and "I don't agree with being gay" messages were followed in the last week with dismissive attacks on those where were offended. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Outsports via email:

We were in contact with the club and the club addressed it with the player.

Divisive comments of that nature can only be hurtful to many fans and has no place in the NFL. The Browns made clear to the player that it was unacceptable and he issued a public apology.

The Browns have not announced if they will take any action on Carder's anti-gay tweets, and the team did not respond to inquiries from Outsports about their plans.

Chances are the Browns are waiting to see if the story dies. They're getting their wish. Because Carder isn't a "big name," large national publications haven't picked up the story; In Cleveland, it hasn't been a very big story, either. The Browns seem less interested in doing the right thing and setting an example than they are in simply managing public perception and making those pesky gays go away.

By passing on any action, the NFL has set itself apart from other pro sports leagues on this issue. While the NBA, MLS and MLB have all set clear costs for any athlete who uses gay slurs, the NFL has given the green light for their athletes to do so without cost. The ramifications of the first offense of using a gay slur in each of the leagues seems to stand at:

NBA: $50,000 fine

MLB: Three-game suspension (2% of the season) and donation to LGBT sports group

MLS: Three-game suspension (9% of the season)

NFL: None

NHL: Undetermined

A one-game suspension in the NFL would be 6% of the season -- Lower than the suspensions from MLS but higher than MLB.

One caveat: These other leagues took actions against athletes for on-the-field use of slurs. Carder was not in a game and likely not a practice when he tweeted those messages. Still, the NFL has taken powerful actions against players for off-field issues, including suspensions for Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger (who was never charged for the "crime" for which he was suspended four games).

Let's be super clear about what this episode tells us. It by no means paints the NFL as "homophobic" or "anti-gay." The NFL has made some clear advances on gay issues, among them including protection of gay athletes in the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. The league also included GLAAD and GLSEN in their diversity symposium last month. ESPN's LZ Granderson praised the NFL earlier this year for taking steps, even if they are baby steps, on gay issues.

But their lack of action here is a huge disappointment. The league is telling its athletes that there is no cost to calling someone a "faggot" or saying other horribly anti-gay things like "I don't believe in being gay." Rarely is the word "faggot" so clearly tied to homophobia the way it was in this instance. Yet the NFL has decided to do nothing. This was the perfect opportunity for the league to take a stand, and they did: It just isn't one that most gay people will like very much.

I personally don't think the league or the people in the front office are remotely homophobic. I know they have treated Outsports like every other news outlet, and they have always been quick to respond to our requests.

But I do think they wish the whole "gay thing" would just go away. Commissioner Roger Goodell wants the league to be about making money, not social issues. Sure, they have their "pink month" in October when the league takes a strong stand in the fight against breast cancer. But why is that? Because women are half the population and they need those women to make more money. Gays and lesbians are one of the smallest minorities in the country, maybe 5% of the population. The number of people who are anti-gay are more than 5% of the population, so we're simply not a very good investment for the nation's largest pro-sports league.

With that, I do imagine that if a player used a gay slur over and over and over without apology, the league would likely step in. They would have to. But you get a "mulligan" on your first one, for sure.

Part of the problem with pursuing any action in regards to Carder is how willing many in the media have been to quickly announce Carder's (with heavy quotes) "apology." After refusing to apologize and telling anyone who was offended to get over it, Carder was forced by the Browns to post a (in all likelihood team-written) apology on his twitter feed. "He apologized, so what else do you want?" is now the mantra we hear, and the NFL and the Browns are using that as cover to ignore future actions with him. If this was Aaron Rodgers saying these things, the media would have written about it for days and the statements and actions from the league and the team may have been quite different.

I just wish they all had to sit in a room and explain their inaction to James Nutter, who nearly committed suicide because of the power of these anti-gay words in sports, and Vince Pryor, who stayed in the closet of Carder's former college team for the same reason. Words have power... and the inaction of leagues and teams to those words reinforces it.

There is one glimmer of hope: That the league and the team will use this incident as a launching pad for some sensitivity training. The athletes and team front offices need to understand the ramifications of this kind of language. If some education comes from all of this, that will be a big step in the right direction.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Outsports

You must be a member of Outsports to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Outsports. You should read them.

Join Outsports

You must be a member of Outsports to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Outsports. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.