New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman took to social media on Wednesday to share his thoughts on one of the biggest stories in the sports world right now: Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard using an anti-Semitic slur in a video live stream.
The clip, which surfaced earlier this week, led to an NBA investigation and to the 29-year-old leave his team for an indefinite time. Leonard later published an apology, saying that he would be “deeply sorry” and that his ignorance about the slur’s history would “absolutely not [be] an excuse.”
Edelman, meanwhile, penned an open letter to Leonard that was posted on his social media channels:
So we’ve never met, I hope we can one day soon.
I’m sure you’ve been getting lots of criticism for what you said. Not trying to add to that, I just want to offer some perspective.
I get the sense that you didn’t use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance.
Most likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment.
That’s what makes it so destructive.
When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance.
Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence.
Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.
I’m down in Miami fairly often. Let’s do a Shabbat dinner with some friends I’ll show you a fun time.
Edelman, who is Jewish, has spoken out against anti-Semitism in the past. The most prominent example of that came last summer, when he reached out to NFL wide receiver DeSean Jackson after a series of anti-Semitic social media posts.
Back then, Edelman shared a video intended for Jackson in which he spoke about his own personal experiences — being called an anti-Jewish slur on the field back in 2011 — and also drew similarities between anti-Semitism and the experiences of the Black community. He also invited Jackson to visit the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. together.
Edelman and Jackson later had a conversation, with the long-time Patriots pass catcher classifying it as “healthy.”
“I just wanted to not only show that I support my community but also show that I’m here to help people in my league, because we’re all one,” he later said about reaching out to Jackson and speaking with him about anti-Semitism.
Leonard has not reacted to Edelman’s post and offer as of Wednesday afternoon.