Two Lions Players United Through Racial Slurs

08.08.13 4 years ago 64 Comments


The Riley Cooper scandal has served as yet another reminder that we’re not living in a post-racial society or whatever bullshit clueless high-minded people occasionally tell us. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories of racial harmony out there. For example, there is the friendship between Lions players Tony Scheffler and Louis Delmas, best buds united through racial slurs.

Their relationship began 10 years ago when Louis Delmas was a volcanic, trash-talking freshman at Western Michigan University.

Tony Scheffler was the big man on campus, a senior with NFL promise. Delmas was the abandoned 17-year-old adjusting to campus life after a rough life in Florida. Scheffler took Delmas under his wing even though the young safety barked at him every time the tight end ran a route.

Their friendship grew over the years, and they remain tight as members of the Lions.

“Hey, cracker,” Delmas often says to Scheffler inside the Lions practice facility.

“How’s my n—–?” Scheffler replies.

Delmas is black. Scheffler is white.


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Their relationship is one of the tightest bonds in the Lions dressing room, but it is a test to society. Usually whites use the term to tear down and ridicule. Most blacks use the word with an “a” at the end rather than an “er,” and it is a term of brotherhood and endearment. Scheffler and Delmas use both forms.

Scheffler knows the history of the word and the sensitivity he must use. He would never call another teammate that. He never calls Delmas the N-word outside the dressing room or in front of his family. They are playful exchanges in meeting rooms and the practice field.

“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.”

While Delmas and Scheffler have broken through the tension of being friends with someone who is not of their race, the rest of the locker room is pretty segregated. Players report that black players and white players sit apart in the lunch room. And the team has definitely not had any screenings of Save The Last Dance.

Seriously, this could be a Disney movie. I mean, except for the abundance of racial slurs.

Also, let this be another handy lesson to CNN. The N-word is bleeped while cracker can be printed in a news publication with impunity. CRACKER CRACKER CRACKER.

[pic via Detroit News]

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