Cleveland Browns cornerback and NFL Special Olympics Global Ambassador Joe Haden told ESPN's Steve Wulf on July 23 the "r-word" is hurtful, hateful and ignorant."
Joe Haden wants to put an end to the use of the "r-word."
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Haden, the Cleveland Browns cornerback and NFL Special Olympics Global Ambassador, told ESPN's Steve Wulf on Thursday this word is derogatory in every sense of the word.
"Open up your vocabulary, people," Haden said. "The R-word is hurtful, hateful and ignorant. Like the N-word, it should not be part of our language."
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James took some heat for using the word twice between 2011 and 2014 when he was still with the Miami Heat, per The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Shandel Richardson.
James used the word when a reporter asked him about Oklahoma City Thunder forward and 2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin Durant's passing game in Jan. 2014, per Richardson.
"That is retarded to me," James quipped. "Kevin Durant is great at being a passer."
He then apologized during his postgame conference with the media, per The South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
"I used the word 'retarded' before. Obviously, it had nothing to do with kids that are underprivileged. There's no knock on them. It's a word that's been around for a long time where I grew. It's a bad habit, so I tried to break it. If I use it again, I'm going to try to do my best not to. I mean no disrespect."
Richardson says James first mentioned the word in a postgame interview after a playoff win over the Boston Celtics in 2011.
With this, Haden told Wulf on Thursday he has not had a chance to talk to James about the issue now that both of them play for Cleveland's pro sports teams:
"I think he's learned that lesson. Besides, there are other lessons to learn. I would encourage him, or anyone, to go to a Special Olympics event. That's where you'll see the pure joy of competition, a joy we should all remember, no matter how big we get."
Wulf stresses Haden is the first NFL player to carry the title of Special Global Olympics Ambassador. He has been in touch with an organization known as "Spread The Word To End The Word" in order to curb the use of the said "r-word."
The organization's official website explains why people should pledge to its cause:
"The R-word is the word 'retard(ed).' Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It's offensive. It's derogatory.
"Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more acceptable attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.
"Pledge today to use respectful, people-first language."
As of July 23, the organization has amassed 570,783 online pledges.
Haden's younger brother, Jacob, inspired him to be involved in the Special Olympics. Wulf says Jacob Haden "has a cognitive disorder that limits his language and speech."
"He's just really a cool kid," the Browns cornerback told ESPN. "I play for him, and I would do anything for him."
Another NFL player, Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco, has been actively involved in Special Olympics, but slipped up and used the "r-word" when he was asked about a cold-weather city hosting the Super Bowl, per ESPN.
Flacco apologized immediately. He and two other Ravens teammates pledged to not use it anymore during a Special Olympics event several months ago, per Wulf.
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