As he prepares to take the field in the Super Bowl this Sunday, the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens is finding himself in hot water for using the word “retarded.”
Joe Flacco used the term, which is offensive to many with disabilities, in response to a question from a Denver Post columnist who wondered what the NFL quarterback thought of future Super Bowls being played in cold-weather climates.
“Yeah, I think it’s retarded,” Flacco said Monday before correcting himself. “I guess I shouldn’t say that (word). I think it’s stupid. If you want to have a Super Bowl, put a retractable dome on your stadium, then you can get one. Other than that, I don’t really like the idea.”
The comment drew criticism from disability advocates who have worked to remove the term from both legal and conversational use.
“All eyes are on the players competing in this weekend’s Super Bowl, and unfortunately, while under this media microscope, Joe Flacco used a hurtful word to people with disabilities,” Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, said in a statement. “After Super Bowl XLVII is in the history books, The Arc would welcome Mr. Flacco in the national dialogue about why this word is offensive to people with disabilities and what fans can do to help us remove the word from our society.”
Flacco does have a history of supporting people with disabilities. The Baltimore Sun reports that he has co-chaired a fundraising event for Special Olympics Maryland in the past.
“We’re glad to see he took it back immediately and recognized that he kind of made a slip,” a spokeswoman for the organization told the newspaper. “We’re still supportive of him and look forward to working with him in the future.”
Flacco reportedly apologized for the word choice during Super Bowl media day on Tuesday, citing his longtime relationship with Special Olympics.