Jewish NFL star player Julian Edelman reached out on Wednesday to NBA player Meyers Leonard in the wake of revelations the Miami Heat center yelled an anti-Semitic slur during a video game livestream.
What's the background?
During the Monday livestream, Leonard yelled, "F***in' cowards, don't f***in' snipe with me you f***in' k*** bitch!" Video of the incident quickly circulated on social media.
Leonard, who plays center for the Miami Heat, released a lengthy statement apologizing for using the slur, claiming he didn't know what it meant: "I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday. While I don't know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong."
Leonard, 29, had an endorsement deal with OriginPC, a company that sells gamer computer consoles, and the outfit immediately terminated its relationship with Leonard, saying the center's slur "does not reflect the values or views of ORIGIN PC." In addition, the Heat on Tuesday banned Leonard "indefinitely" from the team over his use of the slur.
What did Edelman have to say?
Edelman, a wide receiver with the New England Patriots, posted an open letter to Leonard on Twitter. Edelman's tone was direct but not accusatory — it's clear he wants to help Leonard gain understanding in a friendly way, even inviting him to a Shabbat dinner:
Edelman told Leonard he hopes they can meet soon.
"I get the sense that you didn't use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance," he wrote. "Most likely, you weren't trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That's what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it's usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread."
Edelman's post has received over 100,000 likes as of Wednesday afternoon.
ESPN said the 34-year-old Patriots star has become more comfortable speaking out against anti-Semitism in recent years, noting that last year Edelman publicly invited then-Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., after Jackson's anti-Semitic social media posts.
The sports network said Edelman and Jackson did have a chance to talk.
"We've stayed in touch. I think it was a healthy conversation," Edelman said. "... I just wanted to not only show that I support my community but also show that I'm here to help people in my league, because we're all one."