LOS ANGELES: Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis apologized for a second time on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) after he labeled Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel a “midget.”
On Monday night Lewis had said sorry to Manziel — who is six feet (1.83 meters) tall — and he went a step further on Tuesday.
“I’m aware that my comment on local radio last night was offensive to people of short stature and to their families and friends,” Lewis said in a new statement released by the Bengals, who face the Browns in an all-Ohio NFL clash on Sunday.
“It was thoughtless on my part to use the word I did, and not excusable, and I greatly regret it.”
Lewis said he’d done some reading on the website of Little People of America, a non-profit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families, and realized his choice of words was insensitive.
The “midget” remark came in a phone call to a Cincinnati radio show, after news broke that the Bengals would be facing Manziel, the much-hyped US collegiate star nicknamed “Johnny Football,” in his first NFL start.
Manziel gets the starting nod over Brian Hoyer, who started the first 13 games of the season for Cleveland. With a 7-6 record, the Browns are trying to stay alive in the playoff race. They’re last in an AFC North division headed by the 8-4 Bengals.
Manziel saw his first significant action in a relief role a fortnight ago in a loss to Buffalo, guiding the Browns to a touchdown in that 26-10 setback.
Coach Mike Pettine nevertheless stuck with Hoyer on Sunday, but after Hoyer struggled against Indianapolis Pettine opted to look at Manziel. AFP