Johnny Miller is sorry. He's sorry he described U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate as looking like "the guy who cleans Tiger's swimming pool," he's sorry for later commenting that "guys with the name of Rocco don't get the trophy, do they?", and he's particularly sorry now that he's being called on it.
"I chose my words poorly and in the future will be more careful," Miller said in a statement. He added that his intention was to "convey my affection and admiration for Rocco's everyman qualities and had absolutely nothing to do with his heritage."Meanwhile, Jemele Hill's people are feverishly mounting a "Johnny Miller defense" for her Boston/Hitler comments. You see, Jemele was just trying to convey her affection and admiration for The Hub and it's everyman qualities and it had absolutely nothing to do with an insane murderous tyrant.
According to the New York Times, earlier this week, A. Kenneth Ciongoli, the chairman of the National Italian American Foundation, sent a very well-reasoned letter to Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports:
"We are certain that NBC and Mr. Miller meant no harm and was simply having some fun at the expense of Italian Americans. Nonetheless, this type of humor is problematic as it reinforces a demeaning and damaging stereotype about an entire ethnic group."I think that's the exact right tone. Miller's comments were ignorant and offensive, but not malicious. That doesn't excuse them, just helps put them in perspective. Anthony Baratta, the president of the Order Sons of Italy in American's commission for social justice, wasn't feeling quite so magnanimous. "If Johnny Miller had made a similar remark about Tiger Woods," he said Thursday in a press release, "he would have been fired."
Obviously, Baratta has never heard Miller talk about Tiger. He'd rather die than speak ill of the player whose posters adorn his bedroom walls. Not only that, but if Kelly Tilghman can casually suggest tour players should lynch Woods and get a two-week vacation out of it, I think Miller could get away with making fun of his heritage. Just a hunch.