The ESPN employee who lost his job for posting the NBA headline "Chink in the Armor" is speaking out to say he apologizes to Jeremy Lin and anyone offended by his actions, but claims it was an "honest mistake" and not racially motivated.
The term in question, "Chink," can be used not only to describe an infraction or crack on a surface, but also as a derogatory term for Asians comparable to the "N-word" for African-Americans. However its use in the colloquial phrase is not considered a racist remark.
Anthony Federico, the now-former ESPN headline writer behind the controversy, told the New York Daily News that he was not trying to be "cute or punny" when he published the headline, and the 28-year-old editor said he has used the phrase "at least 100 times" over the years.
Federico told the Daily News that "ESPN did what they had to do," and added that he was personally disappointed for possibly offending one of his heroes.
"Federico called Lin one of his heroes - not just because he's a big Knicks fan, but because he feels a kinship with a fellow 'outspoken Christian.'
'My faith is my life,' he said. 'I'd love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake.'"
The headline appeared on ESPN's mobile website at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, Federico's last headline of his shift, and was removed by 3:05 a.m. "I had a career that I was proud of," Federico said of his time at ESPN, which began as a temporary intern in 2006. "I'm devastated that I caused a firestorm."
A ESPN anchor, Max Bretos, said the same slur on air Wednesday and has since been suspended for 30 days.
"My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community," Bretos said in a statement Saturday. "Despite intention, phrase was inappropriate in this context."
The NBA phenom at the center of the story commented on the controversy Sunday, giving Federico and Bretos the benefit of the doubt.
"They've apologized, and so from my end, I don't care anymore," Lin said. "You have to learn to forgive, and I don't even think that was intentional."