In a pre-Super Bowl press conference, someone asked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco what he thought about cold-weather cities playing host to the Super Bowl. “Yeah, I think it’s retarded,” he said — then immediately backtracked: “I probably shouldn’t say that. I think it’s stupid.” Despite an apology, over the next week, Flacco was condemned for his “poor command of the English language” and “offensive” word-choice. And now, Flacco (along with teammates Gino Gradkowski and Ed Dickson) has signed the Special Olympics’ R-Word Pledge, promising to never again use the term in a derogatory way.

Flacco has done a good thing in managing to turn a verbal slip-up into a teaching moment; the incident has gotten more attention for the Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End the Word” movement:

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 accepting attitudes and communities for all people.  Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.  Pledge today to use respectful, people-first language.

More than 400,000 people have already signed the pledge to date — including the three Ravens.