Did The Rangers’ Sean Avery Call Opponents “Black Monkeys”?
The New York Rangers' Sean Avery served as a cultural flash point earlier this offseason, when he came out in support of gay marriage. Some didn't like it, but mostly, Avery's outspokenness received a positive reception (not that he'd have cared either way). Avery, though, doesn't have a history of always saying things promoting such an accepting agenda. This remark, for instance, got him in trouble...and if he actually said what a former teammate recently said he did, it could well undo some of the goodwill he's engendered over the summer.
Alex Frolov, who earlier this year signed a deal to join Russia's KHL, played with Avery on the Rangers last season, and for several years in Los Angeles prior to that. In a recent interview, he spoke of Avery's maturation, but in doing so, dropped a potential bombshell:
"(Avery) isn’t a fool. Lately he has become calmer, smarter. Before he’d get swept away with emotions and do something stupid. To mention each and every one of his stunts. … Something always happens around him, it’s a part of his job. He needs to be talked about. He loves it, he feels at home in the spotlight. Sometimes he called opponents ‘black monkeys.’ He did a lot of things. I can’t remember all."
Needless to say, he remembered enough. Because if Avery said what we bolded (and he's been accused of it before, though he denied it then), that's bad. Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News notes that there "appears...that there is an issue of context;" in other words, since Frolov is talking about how much Avery's grown, the "black monkeys" comment most likely isn't a reference to anything he's said recently.
Let's hope not, since the remark (if indeed Avery made it) is, as Spector says, "appalling." If Avery called someone that, he shouldn't be let off easy about it - it's a good sign that he appears to have at least calmed down some, and is smarter about what he says, but the place inside someone that makes them call a person that doesn't go on and off like a switch.
Avery deserves credit for not being afraid to speak up this summer. Maybe it was all a misunderstanding and he, like he contended in 2005, never said the "monkey" stuff to begin with. Additionally, it's worth noting Spector's point that if Avery said something like that today, it would most likely be news almost immediately. So it probably is best to hold off on reaching any conclusions here until we hear more, but if Frolov is correct, Avery's got some more work to do to convince people that he's really turned a corner personally.
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