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ESPN’s Paul Finebaum apologizes for saying ‘this country is not oppressing black people’

Paul Finebaum, the ESPN radio and SEC commentator, has apologized for saying, in a discussion of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, that “this country does not oppress black people.”

“I could spend the rest of my life trying to talk my way out of it, but I can’t,” Finebaum said Thursday on “SportsCenter.” “I blew it. I simply did not have a good grasp of the situation. I know better. I’ve lived in this country, I see what is going on all across the country from North to South to East to West and I have no excuse.

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“I can’t explain why I articulated the words the way they did, but I did and there is a public record of it and there’s a natural reaction and I respect that. All I can say is that I made a terrible mistake in trying to express a feeling that I probably — not probably — I had no right to express. I don’t know whether this will mean anything to anyone, but I feel compelled to answer your question that way — that it was a terrible mistake on my part and my eyes are wider-open today than they have ever been as a result.”

Finebaum made the original comment Monday on his radio show and reiterated it in a discussion, among others, with Joey Galloway and David Pollock on “College Football Live.” (Awful Announcing has the full transcript.) He said he had spoken to both Galloway and Marcus Spears, which whom he had discussed the Kaepernick protest on his radio show.

“He made a very clear point to me that as much as he loves me and I love him — we’re like brothers — his point to me was that I can’t understand what he’s been through, and I can’t,” Finebaum said of Spears. “I’ve seen the bigotry. I’ve seen the racism. … I know better, and that’s what so disappointing as a broadcaster that I didn’t do a better job of making a point.”

Finebaum’s original take on his show and “College Football Live”?

“The genesis of this [American] flag goes back to the War of 1812. I just really don’t understand, and I don’t want to look at the country back then but … this country has issues, but this country is not oppressing black people.”

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