Marqise Lee admitted to receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sunday for using a racial slur during the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Lee told Mike DiRocco of ESPN.com, he used the N-word towards an unidentified Oakland Raiders player in the third quarter after a two-yard gain by running back T.J. Yeldon. The third-year wide receiver said he used the N-word after Raiders players used it towards him:
“It’s kind of hard when you have refs out there trying to limit what people say when you’ve got grown men hitting each other. You’ve got a lot of things that’s going on that’s flaring as far as in your mind. These 42 [teammates] know as far as the things I said, it wasn’t intentional at all.”
Lee said the choice of words won’t hang heavy on him or the Raider who used it, as the emotions of the game lead to things being said, “regardless if the ref likes it or not.”
Context is important, of course. A black athlete using that word in a tense moment with another black athlete is certainly not the same as if a white player had used it. That may have been ejection-worthy. But with microphones all over the field, the NFL has a strict policy governing usage of that word, which makes sense.
It does sound like Lee may have fallen victim to the classic “penalize the guy who retaliates” situation, though, but that’s probably never going away.