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Rocker: 'My words got ahead of my head'


January 13, 2000
Web posted at: 2:25 AM EST (0725 GMT)

MACON, Georgia (CNN) -- John Rocker, the fiery Atlanta Braves relief pitcher whose recent comments about minorities and gays ignited calls for his ouster, apologized Wednesday, and said he is not a racist. "I just lost my cool," he said.

Rocker, a 25-year-old Georgia native, said he was "grossly misrepresented" in the controversial Sports Illustrated article -- and added that if he read the comments as printed: "I would think I was a complete jerk."

In an interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons, Rocker tried to explain how he could insult so many groups of people.

"A lot of people ... say things we really don't mean and most people have a luxury to come back after they've said something -- pull the person off to the side who they've offended and say, 'Look, I'm sorry. My words got ahead of my head. I apologize. I take it back.'"

"Unfortunately for me, I make a comment like that in front of somebody who's got a tape recorder and pen and paper working," he said.

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"In front of a reporter, you blurt it out, you can't get it back."

The ESPN interview, conducted by baseball expert Peter Gammons, was Rocker's first since the article was printed. Major League Baseball ordered Rocker to undergo psychological testing as a result of his explosive comments.

Among the comments Rocker made in the magazine article, he said, "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners ... You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English."

He also called a teammate a "fat monkey."

Describing himself as a "big-time extrovert," Rocker told ESPN's Gammons, "The last thing I want to do ... is offend people and ostracize myself."

Asked if he is a racist, Rocker said, "Absolutely not."

"Tell to you the truth, Peter, I just lost my cool," he said after describing how a New York fan spit on him and another hit him in the back with a battery.

Rocker said he saw the Sports Illustrated interview "as a forum to retaliate at all the wrong injustices that had been done towards me and towards a lot of my teammates -- and I just went a little too far."

"I'll admit I said something I shouldn't have said."

Asked to explain how he could call a teammate "a fat monkey," Rocker said he and the player often make such exchanges to each other's face and it's not taken personally.

"This guy wasn't even a black player. He's a Latin player who I actually consider to be a good friend of mine."

Rocker ordered to undergo psychological tests
Q&A with SI's Jeff Pearlman
Report: Rocker starts testing, goes hunting
Teammates react to Rocker at spring training site

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