On the day the nation honors Martin Luther King, Jr., ESPN radio’s Mike Greenberg “slips” and calls him “Martin Luther Coon.” Greenberg later apologized in a written statement, but NOT on the radio yet.
From the ESPN website:
I just came home from the Knicks game and found out about the mess that was created by my garbling a sentence on our show this morning; I apologize for not addressing it sooner.
And I’m sorry that my talking too fast – and slurring my words – might have given people who don’t know our show the wrong impression about us, and about me.
I feel horrible about that, because nothing could be further away from who I am and what our show is about.
I would never say anything like that, not in public, or in private, or in the silence of my own mind, and neither would anyone associated with our show, and I’m very sorry that my stumble this morning gave so many people the opposite impression.
As apologies go, that’s a pretty weak one. It doesn’t even set the record straight as to what Greenberg was trying to say. In fact, it’s not even an “apology.” It’s a “clarification.”
Clarify what? The man said, “Martin Luther Coon.” He said it. What is there to clarify? Apologize? That he should do. Publicly. On the radio and/or television. Either that or he should be given a few days off via a suspension.
I’m trying to give Greenberg the benefit of the doubt. Anyone can misspeak, but that’s a particularly puzzling remark. “Coon?” How do you mangle “King” into “Coon.” It’s not as if they sound even remotely alike.
Greenberg is an annoying little know-it-all, but I’ve never confused the “Mike & Mike” show with Howard Stern and Don Imus. Still, just dismissing Greenberg’s butchering of King’s name as just his mouth outracing his brain cuts him too much slack. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt but that doesn’t mean he should get a total pass for his stupidity.
So I dropped ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer a line asking for Greenberg to apologize on the radio or on television for his racially insensitive remarks. I was polite, but I made it clear I thought Greenberg had some forced vacation days coming to him.
I don’t expect anything to come from my petty little protest, but if it does, I won’t be terribly upset.