We've seen plenty of athletes toss around gay epithets at presumably straight people, but this is one of the rare occasions when an athlete has the balls to target an openly gay fan. Walsall FC defender Manny Smith got into an exchange with Kevin Paddock last Friday and had some choice words for the Walsall fan, calling him "Kevin Cock," "a queer," and demanded an explanation for Paddock's earring.
The lovely series of tweets looked just like this:
I would like to publicly apologise to Kevin. The comments were borne out of frustration and were tweeted in the heat of the moment. I deeply regret them. I realise that, as a professional sports person, I am a role model and my conduct, both in person and via social networking sites, should reflect this.
I met with Kevin in person today and apologised to him face-to-face. He has kindly agreed that this will be the end of the matter.
I just want to concentrate on my football and help Walsall maintain our League One status. I apologise to all our supporters and everyone connected with the club for this unfortunate incident, especially when all the focus should be on yesterday's deserved win over Wycombe.
As far as apologies go, it's not a bad one. He's really just apologizing for being caught, but it's better than the non-apology we see so many athletes put out.
One of the problems with athletes demeaning people based on their sexual orientation is that it gives license to others to do so. A great example is this nasty tweet from a vile coward who simply goes by "disk" on twitter:
For his part, Paddock has accepted Smith's apology and moved on, even though Smith will most certainly face a charge from the FA.