Marvin Lewis is not a head coach known for his press conferences. That might change after today's interview. When asked about the possibility of facing Johnny Manziel as a starter against the Browns this Sunday, Lewis said "You gotta go defend the offense. You don't defend a player, particularly a midget." I get having a sense of humor, but badmouthing a divisional rival after already being battered by them once this year isn't a great idea. The last thing you want to do is give another team material to motivate them. But we'll ignore that for now. My question is, does Johnny Manziel classify as a "midget"?
Johnny Manziel is 6'0. Superbowl winning QB Russell Wilson is 5'11. Darren Sproles is 5'6, and Giovanni Bernard is 5'9. Trindon Holliday is the shortest player in the NFL, at 5'5. At that point, Manziel isn't even tiny by NFL standards! Marvin Lewis appears to be either making a bad joke or knocking Manziel based on the old myth that short quarterbacks can't produce in the NFL.
Statistically, however, Manziel is at a good height. Through 2012, 13 6'0 quarterbacks have seen action in the NFL. Johnny Manziel will be the 14th. If you look at the numbers, 6'0 quarterbacks have both the highest passer rating and yards per attempt...out of any height bracket. That's statistically noteworthy. The numbers show that you DO have to defend against a player of Manziel's size.
Deconstructing Lewis' bad joke further, a "midget" is a person under 4'10 in height. Oh, and the term "midget"? That's a term many people under 4'10 in height find to be insulting. Don't take my word for it. Check this out. Why is the term so offensive? The term "midget" was first used to refer to people of short stature in 1865. The word is derived from the word "midge," a term for a small flying insect. The term became viewed as insulting once P.T. Barnum started using the term as a reference to General Tom Thumb in his circus. I'm sure that Lewis didn't mean to be offensive when he used the term, but then again, did Riley Cooper mean to be offensive when he uttered a racial slur against African Americans at a concert? Nope. This wasn't an intentional use of a slur by Lewis, but it was insulting to a particular category of people nonetheless.
If the NFL wants to be fair in its push to be politically correct, it will support the Little People as well! My guess is that the league, and the media, will turn a blind eye to the derogatory and insulting nature of Lewis' comments towards little people (the term that most prefer to be referred to as). This is in spite of the fact that there has been a push for political correctness throughout the rest of the league.
Johnny Manziel is not a "midget." Marvin Lewis should know better than to use a term referring to a real physical condition to mock an opponent. This is a mistake on the part of Marvin Lewis and an apology is in order. I'm not trying to pile on with criticism against Lewis either; this is a topic worth addressing. So think before next time you want to call someone a "midget." General Tom Thumb would thank you.
Update. Marvin Lewis has apologized, but apparently to all the wrong people. He has apologized to the Browns, Manziel, and Browns fans. However, he has failed to apologize to the group of people truly insulted and hurt by his use of the term "midget". Hey, if the NFL wants to be politically correct and make the Redskins change their name because it's an offensive term, then the NFL needs to not discriminate and take a stand against all offensive terms. Let's be fair and equal here Commissioner Goodell. The ball is in your court. All kidding aside, this is a good opportunity for the league to do something good and raise awareness about a term most people don't realize is offensive. Hopefully some good can come out of this.
Update II. Marvin Lewis has now apologized to the people offended by his comments as well. Good to see; hopefully this incident will at least raise awareness about the issue. Here's his apology, per ESPN. Classy move by Marvin, and goes a long way to make amends and also inform people.
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