*Former Seattle Mariners player Steve Clevenger is just now apologizing for racist tweets about Black Lives Matter protesters from September 2016, that went viral and subsequently got him suspended for the season.
As the protests that followed a number of police shootings of unarmed black men led to conflicts between law enforcement and demonstrators on Sept. 22, Clevenger sent a pair of tweets before going to a doctor’s appointment for the broken hand that had sidelined him for the second half of the season with the Seattle Mariners.
The first tweet read: “[Black Lives Matter] is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals.” The second: “Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha s*** cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the Anthem!”
By the time he left the doctor’s office that day and checked his phone, the tweets had caused a firestorm. Twenty-four hours later, the Mariners suspended him for the rest of the season. On Nov. 2, he was removed from the Mariners’ 40-man roster and chose free agency.
In a new interview with Yahoo Sports, Clevenger claims to be a changed man.
“My words were wrong. I regret every day that I wrote it, and I wish I could take it back. They were harsh. They were mean. They angered a lot of people. And I’m sorry for it. I can only ask for forgiveness,” the player said.
While a handful teams have inquired about Clevenger’s status this offseason, none has offered him so much as a minor league contract.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Clevenger said. “I try to hold out hope that a couple lines on Twitter won’t end my career. I’m trying to think positive. I want people to know who I really am as a person. I want an opportunity to show people my tweets aren’t who I am or who I want to be.
“I’ve spent all offseason trying to become a better person. Learn different cultures. The history of the United States.”
Claiming he isn’t racist, Clevenger said: “I see how people could be hurt. I see how people can take it as being racist. I don’t have hatred in my body because of race or religion or gender. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely wouldn’t have posted those tweets. That’s not the person I am.”
“I come from a struggling family. I understand people’s pain when they come to that. I grew up around it. I had friends who didn’t have much of anything, but they’re my friends. I don’t judge people on how much money they have or their race or their gender or what religion they practice. I don’t hate people because of that type of thing.”
Clevenger says he regrets using the word “thug” and has studied the Black Lives Matter movement in hopes of learning more about the black community. While he disagreed with some of President Obama’s policies, “I respected Obama as our president,” Clevenger said.
His feelings on kneeling for the national anthem, as Colin Kaepernick and others were doing at the time, remains the same: “He’s free to exercise his rights. I don’t hold it against him. I’m just not for it. But he has his right to kneel for the anthem.”
His message for those who doubt his intentions?
“I’m not a racist,” Clevenger said. “I wasn’t raised to be a racist. My family isn’t racist. Nobody I’m involved with is racist. I don’t condone it. I don’t agree with hating people. That’s not me. That’s not who I am. That’s not something I’m OK with supporting.
“I’m hoping that I can get an opportunity to play ball again and be part of a solution. If a team asks me to help out, I’ll volunteer to do whatever they want. To hear people’s voices that can’t be heard. If I can get the opportunity to play in your organization, if you get to know me, you’d get to know somebody really good. I don’t have hatred in me. I have a passion to play baseball. That’s my goal in life. And if you give me the opportunity to show you my tweets don’t define who I am, you might be surprised.”