By Alex O’Connor
On Monday in an interview with Lance McAlister of 700 WLW in Cincinnati, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel a “midget” when referring to the uncertainty of who will be at quarterback for the Browns and the potential game plans that the defense will try to plan for. When Lewis first apologized on Tuesday, he cited that he was sorry to the Browns fans, employees as well as Johnny Manziel. However, he neglected to mention the fact that the word “midget” has a universal effect on society that expands much further than Manziel and the Browns organization. Today, Lewis apologized for the second time, citing “I’m aware that my comment on local radio last night was offensive to people of short stature and to their families and friends.” The second apology was submitted via the Bengals Twitter account, showing an additional insincere gesture on behalf of both parties. Lewis essentially had to “right is wrong” twice, and had to do it both times in the public eye.
Several media and outside organizations have heavily criticized Lewis’ comments as well the manner in which he apologized. The Little People of America is just one example of a group that finds the word offensive and alienating. The Little People of America is an organization that provides support to individuals of short stature and commented that the word has several negative connotations and is often used as an insult. In addition, NBCSports.com has received numerous Bengals fans’ messages regarding the comments made by Lewis. They take aim at the coach, noting that “It’s straight wrong, unmoral, and ignorant” as well as, “I’m a fan of the Bengals, but Marvin just left the most disgusting taste in my mouth.” The general consensus at NBC Sports is that the “m-word is a word that all of us should remove from our vocabularies.”
I understand that coaches can sometimes over-exaggerate their point in the heat of the moment. However, the way Lewis and the Bengals used social media to convey their second apology was not right. First off, only one apology was necessary, and they simply messed it up the first time. National media had the right to critique the statement and ultimately put pressure on Lewis and the organization to make another one. The Little People of America also had the right to emphasize that the Browns and Manziel are not the only ones being effected by Lewis’ comments. The second time should have been conveyed through a communication medium other than social media. The entire situation that has unfolded has also indirectly heightened the intensity of the game on Sunday. Lewis and the Bengals handled the situation poorly, and now have to deal with the media and organizational scrutiny that they are receiving.