Mike Wallace is the newest high-priced free agent to sign with the Miami Dolphins. He’s very fast, favors the number 17, and used to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Monday, he also earned the distinction of being one of the very first pro athletes to tweet something shitty about NBA free agent Jason Collins coming out in a thoughtful personal essay for Sports Illustrated.
In two (now-deleted) tweets sent about an hour after Collins’ SI essay was released, Wallace wondered why a man — any man, really — would want to be with another man when the world is teeming with women. Of course, if Wallace bothered to read Collins’ essay, he’d realize that the explanation is quite simple. Nevertheless...
All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…
I’m not bashing anybody don’t have anything against anyone I just don’t understand it.
Isn’t it obvious, Mike Wallace? Jason Collins is gay. That’s why he’d rather be with men — it’s sort of the whole point of being gay. If that sounds like a ludicrous explanation to you, it should because OF COURSE Mike Wallace understands this already, so OF COURSE Mike Wallace wasn’t simply ruminating out loud on Twitter — he was criticizing Jason Collins, other still-closeted gay athletes, and gay men everywhere by making their choices seem somehow illegitimate or baffling. Which is bullshit.
Wallace’s (probably mortified) PR person got a handle on things, and he quickly deleted the offending tweets and sent this follow-up missive:
Never said anything was right or wrong I just said I don't understand!! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended— Mike Wallace (@Wallace17_daKid) April 29, 2013
In an encouraging turn, the Miami Dolphins jumped into damage control-mode immediately, releasing the following public statement:
Mike Wallace has apologized for his comments, and we have addressed the matter with him. Mike’s comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization. We will address the entire team about our policy of inclusion and make sure they all understand the importance of respecting individual choices.
This incident should set a tolerant tone in pro sports, since it proves that pro franchises at least recognize that they can’t ignore overt displays of bigotry in their organizations.
Image via AP, Gene J. Paskar