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Special Event

John Rocker Apologizes For Racist Remarks

Aired March 2, 2000 - 10:11 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker was given the go-ahead to go ahead and report to the Braves spring training facility in Florida. He is there now trying to put the controversy surrounding his racist remarks behind him. Let's find out what he has to say. He's already met with his teammates. And, as you may know if you've opened up "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" this morning, he apologized.

Let's got to John Rocker now.

JOHN ROCKER, ATLANTA BRAVES: Just have a statement I'd like to read to everybody.

In the December issue of "Sports Illustrated, " I made several comments of which I am ashamed. In reading the article, I realize that, in three major areas, I have hurt people. It was not intentional but, nevertheless, there was damage done.

First, I used foul language, and I owe an apology to the children and families that see athletes as role models. In this area, I've been a poor example. I was not raised that way, and that kind of language is not used where I come from.

Secondly, my comments concerning persons afflicted with AIDS as well as various minority groups have left people wondering if I am a racist. I will emphasize that I am not a racist, although I can understand how someone who does not know me may think so.

Over a three-year period while in the minor leagues, my home in Macon was a place where players from different ethnic groups and countries lived for as long as six months and as short as two weeks. My closest friend is a first-generation Lebanese with his grandfather coming through Ellis Island no more than 60 years ago. As you can see, my actions do not support this racist label.

My thoughtless words, however, do show that sometimes I lack the understanding to see the problems that other people face. I apologize to all of those my careless and unkind words have affected.

Finally, my comments concerning my team were totally unprofessional and out of line. To the Braves management, to Bobby Cox and to the entire team, I'm extremely sorry for the stress and confusion I have brought on the Braves organization. An apology is no more than just words unless it is followed by actions. I hope that this year I can somehow redeem myself.

I feel the arbitration process was a fair one and I will respect and abide by its results.

At this point in time, I want to and need to focus on helping my team. The Atlanta Braves organization and my teammates are entitled to that. I recognize that this situation will not simply go away, but please understand that I will have no further comment on this matter.

Thank you.

HALL: You heard it: John Rocker saying he is not going to make any further comment about the controversial issue surrounding him. However, he did apologize, saying that his closest friend is Lebanese, whose grandparents came through Ellis Island to this country some 60 years ago. He said he is not a racist, although he understanding why his comments may have led people to realize -- or to believe that he was.

John Rocker, again, apologizing, saying he wants to put this whole matter behind him and go on to help his team of the Atlanta Braves.

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