Last week Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper found himself at the "lowest point" of his life after a video surfaced in which he is seen uttering a racial slur at a concert.
The incident sparked an uproar in the professional sporting realm, a flame that was reignited when a statue of Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn was defaced with racial slurs.
In that vein, then, a story by Terry Foster of the Detroit News presents an interesting contrast to the maelstrom surrounding Cooper.
Foster writes that two Detroit Lions teammates and longtime friends, defensive back Louis Delmas and tight end Tony Scheffler, use racial slurs when addressing each other privately. Delmas, who is African-American, will call Scheffler "cracker" and Scheffler, who is white, will call Delmas "n-----."
Delmas and Scheffler have known each other since their college days at Western Michigan University. Delmas told Foster that there's a different between what they say and what Cooper uttered.
"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."
Foster writes that Delmas and Scheffler don't use the words outside the locker room or in front of each other's families. Several Lions teammates that Foster spoke did not express a problem with Delmas and Scheffler's relationship.
Delmas and Scheffler use the terms as part of their bond, and they both recognize the rarity of their relationship.
"I treat Louis like a little brother," Scheffler said. "He knows my wife and kids. He calls me ‘white boy’ and ‘cracker.' We go back and forth with it and we are both comfortable with each other. I can’t say the same with other relationships in the locker room or how other guys would feel about it. So it is a tough dynamic when you are using those types of words. Everybody does not react the same."
To read Foster's entire column, see here.