I Apologize for Being 14

Shortly after winning the Heisman Trophy this weekend, football player Kyler Murray issued an apology for tweets he had written a few years ago, that were considered by some as “anti-gay.”

Here’s Murray’s apology:

“I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15. I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.”

As an apology, this one’s not bad. He takes responsibility, distances himself from the offensive behavior, explains his intentions, and doesn’t say too much. He couldn’t resist pointing out that these tweets were “from when I was 14 and 15,” implying that they are (a) at least six years old, and (b) should not be held against him since he was an adolescent at the time. But he doesn’t include the deadly “but” (“but, c’mon guys, I was just 14 or 15!”). He doesn’t use the magic word “sorry,” but he does use the word “apologize.”

And it was issued swiftly.

The bigger question is whether adults should ever have to apologize for anti-[fill-in-the-blank] comments made in their adolescence. Almost by definition, adolescents say provocative things. Should we apologize for being adolescent?

Or maybe the apology is exactly the right tool to help us shake off our past and clear the path forward. If this is the last we hear of Mr. Murray’s feelings towards gay people, it will prove this point.

This incident occurred so close to Kevin Hart’s withdrawal from hosting the Academy Awards that we can’t help but compare the responses. Like Mr. Murray, Mr. Hart was discovered to have made anti-gay comments in his past. Rather than apologize, Mr. Hart pointed out the obvious, that we all evolve in our views so we shouldn’t be judged by past comments. What would’ve happened if Mr. Hart had instead issued a simple apology, a la Mr. Murray?

Or have we just gone too far in our insistence on an apology?

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