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A White Detroit Lion Calls His Black Teammate The N-Word All The Time, But It’s Totally Cool

  • Matt Rudnitsky

The Riley Cooper N-bomb incident was bad. Inexcusable. It was followed by the Hugh Douglas to Michael Smith N-bomb, which was also very bad, but slightly excused by some people because both of those guys are black.

Now, there’s this story from the Detroit Lions locker room, about (white) tight end Tony Scheffler and (black) safety Louis Delmas. Kudos to the Detroit News for getting the scoop.

Their relationship began 10 years ago when Louis Delmas was a volcanic, trash-talking freshman at Western Michigan University.

They’ve been friends for a decade, so the following is totally okay, you guys. No ambiguity anywhere.

Their friendship grew over the years, and they remain tight as members of the Lions.

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

“How’s my n—–?” Scheffler replies.

Well, I didn’t see that coming. I’m not going to pretend I’ve never seen friends act similarly, but this isn’t exactly common, and it isn’t exactly not really weird.

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.

As strange as this is, and as uncomfortable as I’d be doing it, Delmas isn’t wrong. If he doesn’t care, and Scheffler doesn’t care, does it matter? We wouldn’t even be discussing this if it wasn’t for Cooper’s idiocy.

“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.”

Scheffler knows the history of the word and the sensitivity he must use. He would never call another teammate that. He never calls Delmas the N-word outside the dressing room or in front of his family. They are playful exchanges in meeting rooms and the practice field…

Well, here is what I keep hearing from black people: Most blacks use the word as a term of endearment. If Scheffler and Delmas are like brothers, then why is it not OK for them to use it but it is OK for a couple of blacks to do the same?

This is weird. But, again, if they’re really “brothers…” if they’re really okay with it…

At the end of the story, bad details emerged. It was only a matter of time.

I spoke to a few players off the record about this issue and they were OK with the Delmas-Scheffler relationship. However, white players said they did not like being called white boy or cracker by black teammates they were not close with. But they believed it is better to remain silent to continue team harmony.

I asked one white player if he really knew his black teammates. He said no.

“Just look in our lunch room,” he said. “Black players are at one table and most of the white players are at other tables.”

There are some who routinely break the color barrier. They include Dominic Raiola, Rob Sims, Calvin Johnson and Pettigrew. There are certainly others, but those were the players who were brought to my attention.

Well, that’s sad. But let’s focus on the “brothers,” and conclude our discussion on the most polite use of a (typically) vitriolic slur in American history.

[Deadspin]

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