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A huge huddle of Redskins fans have been taking out their grief over Sean Taylor‘s death on Len Shapiro for his Tuesday washingtonpost.com column headlined, “Taylor’s Death Is Tragic but Not Surprising.” Shapiro says he’s gotten hundreds of emails since the article appeared.
“This is the most I’ve gotten for anything since I started doing the column,” Shapiro says. “Every time I click over, there are three or four new ones, many of them starting with ‘Mr. Shapiro, you heartless, gutless prick.'”
The outcry, which has a hater/non-hater ratio of about 100-to-1, has caused Shapiro some second thoughts.
“The headline [which Shapiro didn’t write] was a little tough, and a lot of the readers didn’t get past the headline,” he says. “And if I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t have been quite as cynical about Taylor’s transformation. I probably shouldn’t have used the words ‘so-called.'”
But he stands by the intent of the piece, which suggested that those familiar with Taylor’s past could almost be desensitized to news of his murder.
“A lot of the people were so emotionally involved, I’m not sure the message got through,” he says. “Maybe I said it inelegantly, and I’ll take full responsibility for that. But, look, these things are happening to African-American male athletes, and we’ve got to do something about it.”
“We don’t know the answers yet, and til we do we can’t make any conclusions,” Shapiro continues, “but I think it would be irresponsible and just wrong not to mention that this guy came to Washington and had some serious issues. But did he deserve it? Come on! Nobody deserved this.”
Shapiro has also taken a beating on WOL-AM’s sportstalk show, The Sports Groove. John Mitchell, a sportswriter for the Washington Times, went on the air Tuesday night and quickly nailed Shapiro with a one-two punch, calling him both a “racist, conniving skunk” and a “racist, conniving dog of a skunk.”
Last night, the barrage against Shapiro continued, as Sports Groove host Mark Gray boasted that he had invited the writer on the show to rebut the haters, of which he is a proud ringleader.
Shapiro tells me he was unaware of the invite, but he’ll be glad to discuss the situation with Gray.
“He hasn’t called me to appear on the show,” Shapiro says. “If he does I’ll go on.”
Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair. That’s going to be great radio.