In Scrabble games, public speaking and day-to-day life, turning to the dictionary is almost never a good sign.
Two St. Louis institutions, the city's football team and its police force, have become bogged down in a dispute over players' actions and the very definition of the word "apology."
Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms as they walk onto the field during introductions before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (Image source: AP/L.G. Patterson)
After members of the St. Louis Rams football team took to the field with their hands raised — an apparent gesture of solidarity with protestors agitating against the grand jury decision not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown — law enforcement representatives were upset.
"St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory," read an association statement on the issue.
On Monday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that St. Louis County Police Department officials were saying they had received an apology from the Rams...
JUST IN: Rams release statement regarding the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture that 5 players made yesterday. pic.twitter.com/JK28GnVW97— FOX Sports Live (@FOXSportsLive) December 2, 2014
...but Rams vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff quickly hit back, asserting that there had been no official apology.
"At no time in any of the conversations did I apologize for the actions of our players." -- Kevin Demoff to me just a moment ago.— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) December 2, 2014
Here's what Demoff had to say about the issue:
This morning, I had phone conversations with both Chief Dotson and Chief Belmar regarding yesterday's events. I expressed to both of them that I felt badly that our players' support of the community was taken as disrespectful to law enforcement.
Later in the afternoon I had a positive meeting with Chief Dotson, Jeff Roorda, and Gabe Crocker at St. Louis city police headquarters to discuss with them how the Rams' organization and law enforcement could build upon the positive relationship we already have. We began a good dialogue but recognize there is work to be done to strengthen our relationship.
In none of these conversations did I apologize for our players' actions. I did say in each conversation that I regretted any offense their officers may have taken. We do believe it is possible to both support our players' First Amendment rights and support the efforts of local law enforcement as our community begins the process of healing.
Chief Belmar's assertion that our conversation was heartfelt is accurate, and I would characterize our conversation as productive. Our organization wants to find ways to use football to bring our community together.
Cops didn't take Demoff's "sorry, not sorry" clarification lying down.
The St. Louis County Police Department Twitter account cracked open a dictionary late Monday, tweeting the definition of the word "apology" in order to bolster the claim that the Rams had, indeed, apologized.
Apology: "expression of regret for not being able to do something" @kdemoff: "I regretted any offense their officers may have taken."— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) December 2, 2014
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter