Is a racial slur used between friends still a racial slur? A couple of players in the Detroit Lions' locker room are, somewhat inadvertently, putting that question to the test.
The Detroit News' Terry Foster wrote Thursday about the relationship between tight end Tony Scheffler and safety Louis Delmas, a friendship which dates back to their time together at Western Michigan in 2005. Scheffler spoke very highly of Delmas for a piece that ran right here on Audibles, and the pair shares what Foster calls "one of the tightest bonds in the Lions dressing room."
So, what to make of this ...
"Hey, cracker," Delmas often says to Scheffler inside the Lions practice facility.
"How’s my n-----?" Scheffler replies.
Delmas is black. Scheffler is white.
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.
"Me and [Scheffler] have a relationship many people do not have -- both black and white," Delmas said. "I look at him like my brother. I love him to death.
"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."
In an increasingly-PC world, the lighthearted back and forth between Scheffler and Delmas seems to walk a very tenuous line. The recent incident involving Eagles WR Riley Cooper, in which he was caught on tape using the n-word and was subsequently excused from Eagles practices for a few days to undergo counseling, turned Cooper into something of a pariah, even within the Philadelphia locker room. Scheffler's use of that taboo word is Delmas-approved and done in a much more affectionate manner. But does that make it OK?