I am quick to tell people in the sports industry when it is necessary to see the errors of their ways, and it's necessary this time to see the errors of mine and apologize for them. This started a few days ago with some comments made to ESPN The Magazine about the Washington, DC sports scene, in which I uttered the words "last" and "terrible" and no matter the context at the time the words were stupid and they offended a great many people in the community in which I've lived for more than 30 years. It was just a dumb thing to say, that I regret.
I've said publicly more than a few times lately that the nature of public discourse these days, especially in the areas of sports and politics, is meaner and dumber than ever…and then I engaged in the very kind of mean-spirited debate I've criticized and come to loathe. For that I owe an even deeper apology. A dear friend and colleague reminded me this morning that when your job is to speak publicly essentially every day of the year, as is the case for both of us, we're going to make assessments of the games and people who play/oversee them that will be flat-out wrong. An apology isn't a sign of weakness; it's the order of the day. And he's absolutely right about that. Instead, as is my way sometime, I dug in and freely engaged in something that should never have existed.
I'd never had any contentiousness with The Post's Dan Steinberg nor ESPN's Bram Weinstein before this. In fact, we've all enjoyed not just professional relationships but really good ones. To whatever extent those are damaged, I apologize.
Although I don’t agree with the things they said about me, their criticism of my comments to the Magazine are totally fair. They did what I’ve done for years and years as a columnist: they righteously skewered a public figure who said something dumb.
Let me be really clear about something: doing my job requires expressing opinions, and sometimes those opinions aren't going to be popular. I'm not in the public relations business. A person who writes a column or leads discussion is, necessarily, expected to be critical. And sometimes those criticisms sting. Backing down on every difficult or sensitive issue isn't acceptable. The challenge for me going forward is to recognize the line that cannot be crossed. I apologize to the people of greater Washington who have made the sports scene, particularly this summer with the success of the Nationals and the promise of RG3, an increasingly exciting place to be and consume sports.
While I'm figuring out how to bring a more civil tone to certain debates, I am going to step away from Twitter and Facebook for a while. If I can't learn how to completely ignore comments I find objectionable, maybe “a while” will have to turn into forever. Until then, I'll accept the heat and to quote my friend Tony Kornheiser, try and do better the next time…