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Ex-ESPN writer says slur was 'honest mistake'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:50 PM EST, Mon February 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former ESPN employee Anthony Federico tells the New York Daily News, "I'm so sorry"
  • He wrote a headline that included the phrase "Chink in the Armor"
  • Basketball sensation Jeremy Lin did not think the slur was on purpose and does not care anymore
  • Federico tells the paper he is proud of his career at ESPN

New York (CNN) -- Former ESPN writer Anthony Federico apologized Monday for writing an offensive headline about basketball sensation Jeremy Lin, calling it "an honest mistake."

The controversial headline read "Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin's 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets."

The phrase -- Chink in the Armor -- contains a word that has two meanings; one is an ethnic slur.

"I'd love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake," Federico told the New York Daily News in an interview published Monday.

ESPN fired Federico and suspended Max Bretos, an anchor who used the same phrase, the sports network said Sunday.

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Federico told the paper, "ESPN did what they had to do."

The ESPN headline Saturday morning was up for 35 minutes before being removed, but the damage was done.

ESPN apologized Saturday stating, "We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin. His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN."

Federico offered a similar apology in the interview with the Daily News.

"I'm so sorry that I offended people. I'm so sorry if I offended Jeremy," he said.

Lin, 23, came off the bench earlier this month to guide the New York Knicks to win after improbable win. The unlikely star of Taiwanese descent quickly turned into a global brand and "Linsanity" became the phrase of the times.

Lin addressed the controversy during a news conference Sunday following the Knicks' 104-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks, the defending national champions. He said he did not think the headline was intentional.

"I don't think it was on purpose," Lin said. "At the same time, they've apologized. I don't care anymore."

In reflecting on his time at ESPN, Federico told the New York Daily News, "I had a career that I was proud of."

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