'So destructive': NFL player's offering after NBA star's slur

Yahoo Sports Staff
·3-min read
New England Patriots player Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, has offered to explain to NBA counterpart Meyers Leonard exactly why his use of an anti-semitic slur is so damaging. Pictures: Getty Images
New England Patriots player Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, has offered to explain to NBA counterpart Meyers Leonard exactly why his use of an anti-semitic slur is so damaging. Pictures: Getty Images

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman reached out to Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard after Leonard used an anti-Semitic slur while hosting a gaming livestream earlier this week.

In an open letter, Edelman explained why Meyers' language is dangerous and hurtful. Edelman also invited Meyers to a Shabbat dinner the next time Edelman is in Miami.

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"An open letter to Meyers Leonard," the message began.

"So we've never met, I hope we can one day soon. I'm sure you've been getting lots of criticism for what you said. Not trying to add to that, I just want to offer some perspective.

"I get the sense that you didn't use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance. Most likely, you weren't trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That's what makes it so destructive. 

"When someone intends to be hateful, it's usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.

"I'm down in Miami fairly often. Let's do a Shabbat dinner with some friends I'll show you a fun time."

Edelman did a similar thing when Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted an anti-Semitic message on social media. Edelman denounced anti-Semitism, and invited Jackson to visit the Holocaust Museum.

Leonard, who is a free agent at the end of the season after signing a one-year, $9m deal to remain in Miami ahead of the 2020-21 season, will remain away from the team indefinitely after the incident.

NBA player Meyers Leonard rebuked over anti-semitic slur

Criticism of Leonard has been fierce in the wake of use use of an anti-semitic slur while playing Call of Duty on Twitch, with not only the Heat, but various NBA coaches condemning his language.

Portland TrailBlazers coach Terry Stotts, who coached Leonard for several years after the team drafted him with the 11th overall pick in the 2012 draft, said the slur was obviously unacceptable.

"What he said was unacceptable. I think we all can agree to that," Stotts said.

"Hopefully more good comes out of it than bad, but he's put himself in a bad situation. What he said was unacceptable."

Miami's Meyers Leonard will spend an indefinite amount of time away from the NBA franchise after using an anti-semitic slur while streaming a gaming session on Twitch. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Miami's Meyers Leonard will spend an indefinite amount of time away from the NBA franchise after using an anti-semitic slur while streaming a gaming session on Twitch. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former teammate and Miami Heat great Udonis Haslem agreed that the slur was well and truly beyond the pale.

"We apologize. That won't tolerated here. I felt that. I have a lot of Jewish friends. They call me Udonis Haslem-berg at times," he said.

Leonard, who frequently hosts livestreams of himself playing with friends on Twitch, lost an sponsorship deal with a gaming company over the incident.

Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks also condemned Leonard's comments.

"Totally unacceptable. I think our players know better... I'm sure the league will do the right thing and address it," he said when asked about it.

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