Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf answered questions from the media Saturday night, talking publicly for the first time about his use of a homophobic slur multiple times during Game 4 Thursday night.
Getzlaf did not apologize to anyone for his use of the slur, said it wasn’t a slur, and while tossing around the word “responsibility” a couple times, clearly is not taking any.
“There were obviously some words said, not necessarily directed at anyone in particular, it was just kind of a comment. I’ve got to be a little more responsible with the words I choose. As a father, as somebody who takes a lot of pride in this game, it’s tough to see somebody refer to it as what TSN did. I didn’t mean it in that manner in any way, and for that to go that route was very disappointing for me. I accepted responsibility and I accepted it fine. We talked to the league and I understand it’s my responsibility to not use vulgar language, period, whether it’s a swear word or what it is. …
“I hope I didn’t offend anybody outside the circle that we trust.”
Wow. In all our years of hearing non-apologies by athletes for their homophobic actions, this is the worst I can remember. He blames TSN for saying it’s a homophobic slur, passes it off as just another comment, passes off the offense people took from it and doesn’t apologize.
For all of that, the NHL said “No problem, Ryan, you go ahead and play. We don’t suspend team captains for gay slurs.”
How people take responsibility for what they do can go a long way. Contrition, empathy, an apology, the words “I’m sorry” — All of these go a long way toward putting this in the past.
Getzlaf offered none of it. He’s not sorry. The only thing he sees having done wrong is being caught. And he isn’t going to give this another second of thought.
His response reinforces the need for a suspension that the league refuses to levy. There is no redemption here for Getzlaf, given his attitude. Even Andrew Shaw was contrite when he realized he had gotten caught.
Getzlaf doesn’t give a shit, so get the hell out of his locker room.
So what lessons did Getzlaf, the Ducks and other NHL players and teams have learned from this? According to Getzlaf’s comments:
- Don’t get caught. The language is fine, but as long as no one hears it and no one can read your lips, no problem.
- If you do get caught, no need to apologize. Just blame other people and throw around the word “responsibility” a couple times. You’ll be fine.
- As long as you didn’t mean it that way, you can just blame the media for labeling the gay slur a gay slur, and you’re off the hook.
- Make sure you say you won’t say it again, but don’t really worry about it. Just make sure no cameras are around when you do.
- Be nice on the call from the NHL and tell them you didn’t realize what you said was a slur. They won’t suspend you.
After all the work the NHL has done to demonstrate an LGBT-inclusive environment in the league, it just took a huge step backward and told the rest of the league it’s actually not serious about stopping the use of homophobic slurs on or off the ice.
Sorry folks, there’s no other way around this one.