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May 15, 2014

LINDLEY: Public apologies the newest addition to the playbook

Social media leaves today's conversations lacking filters

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

– Benjamin Franklin

I’ve wondered what it must be like to be a priest and listen to people reveal their sins and ask for forgiveness. Confession, they say, is good for the heart.

In the last week or so it seems as if every press conference or interview contains someone’s apology. Athletes and those who own teams have tripped over themselves making foolish remarks, then trying to clean them up with clumsy excuses or insincere explanations.

Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, used his own words to disgrace himself and now hopes the public will excuse his racist comments, captured on tape, as a “terrible mistake.”

Sterling’s hope is that an 80-year-old man who spent much of his adult life running a professional basketball team is entitled to be forgiven for a momentary lapse. Does anyone seriously believe it was his first mistake? If it was, embarrassing the NBA, his team, players and the family’s reputation was a whopper.

Perhaps Sterling should take comfort in knowing that he has plenty of company.

Comments by two athletes in response to the St. Louis Rams’ selection of Missouri lineman Michael Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft created a firestorm.

Fans across the country were watching to see which team, if any, would select Sam, the first openly gay player expected to be drafted.

The Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones, a defensive back, tweeted the word “horrible” after Sam was taken with the 249th pick of the draft and shown kissing his boyfriend on ESPN.

Given all the problems the Dolphins struggled with last season when a bullying scandal became front-page news, the last thing anyone would have expected was a Miami player embroiled in another controversial mess. The Dolphins responded quickly, fining Jones and suspending him from team activities. Miami coach Joe Philbin said Jones’ remarks were inappropriate and unacceptable.

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