This Is Why You Should Stop Using The R-Word

"Open up your vocabulary, people."

As a cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, Joe Haden excels in one of the most crucial positions on an NFL defense as well as one of the more physically demanding jobs in sports. He has to keep up with and shut down the football's best athletes — receivers who can run, jump and turn on a dime.

Recently, Haden became the first NFL player selected as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, and that's largely in part because he applies the same no-nonsense work ethic on the field to issues surrounding mental and physical disabilities. His younger brother Jacob was born with a cognitive disorder that limits his language and speech, and the two are very close. In an ESPN story about their relationship, Haden said he "would do anything for [Jacob]."

Joe and Jacob together:

Read on to learn about Haden's campaign to end the "R-word."

Haden's experience growing up with and watching out for Jacob has led him to be an outspoken partner and supporter of Spread the Word to End the Word, a movement that aims to end all used of the derogatory word "retarded" due to its highly offensive nature. "The R-word is hurtful, hateful and ignorant," said Haden.

Joe and Jacob with their other three brothers and mother. Joe is on the left, Jacob on the right.

Haden says he and Jacob text "probably 10, 15 times every day," but it hurts when Jacob calls and "I can't understand what he's sayin' sometimes, and that's what really messes with me."

Jacob flashing his style.

Spread the Word was started in 2009 in conjunction with the World Winter Games, and today has more than 500,000 online pledges aiming to end the use of the R-word and all its derivatives. Millions more have signed the same pledge on banners and petitions all over the world.

Even if it's been engrained into you and your peers' vocabulary, it's not that hard to stop. There are plenty of other words you could use to jokingly describe someone's shortcomings or stupidity. Maybe, like, "stupid."


Watch the full ESPN story on Joe and his brother Jacob:



Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.