Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has found a way to atone for his inappropriate use of the “r-word,” in the form of an official pledge.
In January, Flacco made headlines after being questioned about the NFL’s decision to hold the Super Bowl in the cold-weather, open-air environment of New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium next year. While answering the question, the normally mild-mannered quarterback used a word that many fans found to be offensive.
“Yeah, I think it’s retarded,” Flacco said, according to NESN. He immediately corrected himself, while reiterating his displeasure for the idea of a cold-weather Super Bowl.
“I probably shouldn’t say that. I think it’s stupid. If you want a Super Bowl, put a retractable dome on your stadium. Then you can get one. Other than that I don’t really like the idea. I don’t think people would react very well to it, or be glad to play anybody in that kind of weather.”
The next day, Flacco officially apologized for his use of the word "retard," explaining that that he hadn’t meant to upset anyone with the comment.
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“Obviously, it was a bad choice of words. I wish I hadn’t said it,” Flacco told USA Today. “I have a great relationship with Special Olympics back in Baltimore and have had one for many years. I didn’t mean to offend anybody, but I definitely apologize for it.”
In fact, Flacco felt so bad about using the word “retarded” that he’s teaming up with the Maryland branch of the Special Olympics to rectify the situation. On Monday, the Super Bowl MVP, along with Ravens teammates Ed Dickson and Gino Gradkowski, signed an official pledge to refrain from using the “r-word.”
The Maryland Special Olympics even posted a picture of the signing ceremony to its official Twitter page. In the photo, Flacco, his teammates and several other officials held up their contracts, officially pledging to eliminate the use of the word “retard” as a part of the R-Word Campaign.
Flacco wasn’t the only NFL athlete to make an inflammatory statement last January. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver angered same-sex marriage activists by making a series of homophobic statements regarding the idea of gay players in an NFL locker room. He later issued an apology.