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Hockey Player Shows up at Event Honoring Mandela. When He Opens His Mouth to Talk About the Icon, Things Go Downhill Fast.


"Well obviously he’s been..."

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Nelson Mandela: anti-apartheid activist, South Africa's first black president inspiring athlete?

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died at 95. (AP/Elmond Jiyane, GCIS) Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. (AP/Elmond Jiyane, GCIS)

On Friday, a Canadian hockey player made it painfully clear that he had no idea who Mandela was — while he was at an event honoring Mandela — and the video went viral.

Attending a Toronto Raptors shindig honoring the late Mandela's life and legacy, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier was asked what he thought of the political figure.

Bernier's awkward answer:

Well obviously he’s been a tremendous athlete, you know obviously what he means to all the sports, you know the world can be changed by the sports is pretty amazing and I think he’s definitely got a lot of respect in every sport and he was definitely one of the athletes I watched growing up as well.

The Raptors put the video online, but quickly removed it after Bernier started being ridiculed.

In Bernier's defense, some have argued that athletes shouldn't be expected to weigh in on politics — they should be expected to stick to sports.

Since making the public blunder, Bernier has apologized:

I'm embarrassed. I didn't mean to offend [Mandela], his legacy. I got flustered with the red carpet and I was nervous. I think everyone makes mistakes and that was me that night.

(H/T: Huffington Post)

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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