When we first saw the ESPN headline "Chink in the Armor," which was appended to an online story about an off night by obscure Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin, we thought, "Wow, that is super racist and not smart." But after reading the now-fired headline writer, Anthony Federico, explain himself, we're more willing to believe it was all just an unfortunate coincidence.
"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." ....
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.
Federico called Lin one of his heroes - not just because he's a big Knicks fan, but because he feels a kinship with a fellow "outspoken Christian."
"My faith is my life," he said. "I'd love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake."
It's near impossible to definitively gauge someone's intent in these situations, but Federico sure sounds sincere. The truth is that, as readily as we all assume ill intent when racial controversies arise, innocent mistakes do happen. Was this one of them?