WASHINGTON – Former Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley spoke with WTOP anchors Mike Moss and Bruce Alan Monday morning after the team’s stunning defeat in Denver.
After exchanging a few jokes and game analysis, Manley made a disparaging remark about former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.
When asked if Aikman jinxed Sunday’s game by providing color commentary, Manley used a derogatory term.
“I think Troy Aikman’s a queer,” he said.
Moss and Alan immediately reacted to the slur.
“We don’t want to go there,” Moss said.
“Ok, I’m sorry about that,” Manley said.
“Now, you want to apologize to him?” asked Moss.
“No,” Manley said.
“You don’t?” Moss asked.
“I’ll just say, ‘I take that back,'” Manley said.
Despite Manley’s reputation for making off-color remarks — earlier in the segment he joked about mistreating his wife and kicking his dog — reactions rippled through the sports and LGBT communities.
“You just don’t expect that language in any professional environment, whether it’s in a radio station or in a professional sports locker room,” said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com.
“These guys are professionals. They are adults. Most of them know gay people [and] have gay family members.”
Listeners wasted no time in expressing their shock on Twitter:
Dexter Manley probably won't be on radio or anything similar again after that comment. YIKES.
— Serpentine Fire (@CJStarchild) October 28, 2013
— Petty Hates (@mypettyhates) October 28, 2013
Cathy Renna, an advocate for the LGBT community, says the problem with Manley’s comment was not necessarily his use of the word “queer,” but instead how he used it.
“When words like this are used in public, particularly by public figures, what determines whether or not it is offensive is the context in which it is used and the intent,” she said.
“When it is clearly being used as an insult … people need to be called out on it because it clearly exhibits a level of bias and a level of thinking about LBGT people as less than or other, which just goes to show that we still have so much more work to do.”
When NBA veteran Jason Collins came out as gay in the spring, many viewed the announcement as a sign that the sports community was starting to change. At the time, Collins told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player.”
While this might be the case for some, Renna says an anti-gay attitude is still very prevalent.
“Sports is one of those areas where there is a lot of work to be done,” she said.
But Zeigler thinks the tides are already changing.
“No matter how far we get with LGBT rights and acceptance there will still be a minority of people who don’t understand gay people, who hate gay people and who use that kind of language, but those people are in the distinct minority,” he said.
Jim Farley, WTOP’s vice president of news and programming, issued a statement shortly after the remark was made:
“This morning in a live interview former Redskins player Dexter Manley made an offensive and derogatory comment. He was immediately challenged by WTOP news anchors Mike Moss and Bruce Alan. We were shocked and stunned and we apologize to our listeners that this happened on WTOP.
“WTOP has contacted a representative for Manley and informed her that he will not be returning.”
Manley declined to comment to WTOP about the incident, but he reportedly spoke with ABC7.
“I put my foot in my mouth and I greatly, deeply apologize,” he told the TV station.
Manley also appeared on Channel 9/WUSA and apologized for the comment. See his appearance below.
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.