Professional athletes are used to criticism, but even the thickest-skinned players must have trouble dealing with blatant racism. Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford told reporters that one fan used a racial slur while taunting him during a game he played for the minor-league Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday.

Crawford, who famously -- or infamously -- signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the BoSox in 2010, has struggled during his time with the team, and fans have made him perhaps the biggest scapegoat for the team's losses.

Crawford, who is black, had just completed his third rehabilitation start with the Sea Dogs as he continues to recover from an injury. After the game, when Crawford was asked about the seemingly constant criticism from fans, he noted one fan in particular who said something particularly malicious.

Talking about that guy, he actually called me a racial slur in the beginning of the game, so he was the only one I had a problem with. ... People in Boston don't even do that, so I don't know what that was about. It's not that bad in Boston, but I can understand why people are gonna be upset about me signing a contract and then having the year I had.

The only light moment in the otherwise awkward video is the backhanded compliment Crawford paid to Boston fans: People in Boston don't even do that is priceless. He didn't mention what the exact slur was, but that didn't stop fans from trashing the player even further in the Comments sections of the multiple news outlets that are reporting the story.

The Dennis and Callahan Morning Show, a radio show in Boston, has the story -- and some of the vitriol appearing below the article is certain to make any reader with a brain a little uneasy.

Seemingly unaware, or too stupid to realize, their name is attached to what they're saying online, commenters faulted Crawford for even pointing out what happened. The first caller in the video said: I think you're being unfairly critical of [the heckler], he did nothing different than what spectators have done since probably the Roman gladiator days. ... As long as we keep talking about racism it'll never go away.

That caller wasn't the only one to come out against Crawford. Facebook user Colleen Stearns chimed in with the comment, Just shut up and play like you are supposed to. Apparently, there are quite a few people who are able to justify blatant racism by channeling it through a game that's played with a stick and a ball.

It's not the first time Boston fans have come under fire for voicing their dissatisfaction with sports in a prejudicial way. When the Boston Bruins were eliminated from the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs after a goal scored by Joel Ward, an African-American, of the Washington Capitals, there were some fans who suggested, among many other things, that the loss was worse because Ward is black.

Sports are supposed to be an escape from the ugliness of the real world. It's a shame when fans funnel their own ignorance and anger into a game.