The NFL’s decision to bring the Super Bowl to the New York metro area next year was expected to generate controversy for being the first cold weather, outdoor championship game. But the choice of words a football star used to describe his feelings on the outdoor game have him eating crow, and has some fans switching loyalties.
When asked by a Denver-based reporter his opinion of the Super Bowl being played next year in New York, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said in a Monday news conference, “I think it’s retarded.”
He quickly added, “Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I think it’s stupid.”
He was referring to playing a Super Bowl in below freezing weather outdoors, but his description of something being stupid may have just as well applied to his choice of words.
Few people have a better knowledge of the stupidity of a prominent, Super Bowl-bound role model using the r-word than Renee Pierce. She’s a so-called self-advocate, a person with a developmental disability who advocates for herself and others with developmental challenges.
Pierce, a football fan, had been rooting for Baltimore to win the Super Bowl. “Suddenly that changed,” she told PIX11 News, “because somebody had to use a certain word.”
Pierce represents The Arc, North Jersey’s lead organization that houses, educates, trains and advocates for people with developmental disabilities. Pierce is part of the R-Word Campaign, a group that successfully lobbied the New Jersey state government to remove the term “mental retardation” from all legislation and regulations, and replace it with “developmental disabilities” or “intellectual disabilities,” terms that the campaign feels better describe people with those conditions.
“Nobody is that,” said Pierce, who refuses to use the so-called r-word. “We’re normal people like everyone else.”
Meanwhile, just outside the grounds of MetLife Stadium, at the biggest New York Giants bar, the East Hill Ale House, fans of an outdoor Super Bowl said football stars should just shut up and play.
“What’s wrong with outdoors” said a Giants fan at the bar. “That’s the way it’s meant to be.”
The R-word Campaign has a list of things people can do to help eliminate the abuse of the word. Topping the list, on pamphlets that members hand out: Stop and Think. It’s advice quarterback Joe Flacco may have wanted to do before using that word.
Late Tuesday, at media day in New Orleans, where he and his team are preparing to face the 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl, Flacco apologized for his choice of words the day before.
However, he stood by his comments that he was against an outdoor, cold weather championship game. Of course, if he doesn’t have the skills to lead his team to the Super Bowl next season, it may not matter what Flacco thinks about playing for the championship at MetLife Stadium.