The ESPN editor fired Sunday for using “chink in the armor” in a headline about Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin said the racial slur never crossed his mind - and he was devastated when he realized his mistake.
“This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Anthony Federico told the Daily News.
“I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy.”
The headline - “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets” - appeared on ESPN’s mobile website at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and was removed by 3:05 a.m.
Federico, 28, said he understands why he was axed. “ESPN did what they had to do,” he said.
He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.
Context is everything. As a guy who writes several thousand words a week, and further, as a guy who is always looking to turn a phrase into a headline, I can tell you that sometimes you simply don't catch everything. This is especially true when you are trying to generate content as fast as possible.
Only the patently idiotic would purposely write what Frederico wrote as a joke or a pun. It's clear from this interview he simply pulled a trite phrase from the index in his head of trite phrases.
Certainly there are better candidates to fire at ESPN, aren't there? Let's start with Chris Berman and end with Stuart Scott. Berman's powder-blue act is as stale as week-old cornflakes. Scott's is hardly more interesting, unless you think torturing two-year-old slang into a Tim Tebow highlight is gold.