Imus comments about Dallas' Jones cause uproar

Updated: June 23, 2008, 9:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Just months after returning to the airwaves with a pledge to mend the wounds caused by his racist and sexist comment about a women's basketball team, Don Imus is again drawing fire for injecting race into his radio show.

During an on-air conversation Monday about the arrests of suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones, Imus asked, "What color is he?"

Told by sports announcer Warner Wolf that Jones, who used to be nicknamed Pacman, is "African-American," Imus responded: "There you go. Now we know."

The exchange came six months after Imus' return to work on a new show on WABC-AM following his firing from MSNBC and CBS Radio for making a racially and sexually charged comment about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. When he returned to work, Imus gave a lengthy on-air apology and pledged to use his new show to foster an open dialogue on race relations.

Later Monday, Imus responded to criticism of his comments, saying he had been misunderstood.

"I meant that he was being picked on because he's black," Imus said in a statement released by his spokesman.

080623 Pacman at Cowboys camp

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Adam Jones talks about his first workout with the Cowboys.

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, one of the chief critics who successfully pushed for Imus' firing from his televised radio show last April, criticized Imus' comments Monday.

"I find the inference of his remark disturbing because it plays into stereotypes," Sharpton said in a statement. "We will determine in the next day or so whether or not his remark warrants direct action on our part."

WABC and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. Vice President Phil Boyce said Imus would be explaining his comments on his Tuesday morning show and it was unlikely the broadcasters would take disciplinary action against him.

Boyce said Imus had explained his words in a private conversation Monday afternoon and the explanation was satisfactory.

"I think some people may be misunderstanding what he meant," said Boyce.

Jones' attorney did not immediately respond to an e-mail.

Rutgers University women's basketball spokeswoman Stacey Brann said there was "no need to revisit the past" and wouldn't comment further.

On Monday's show, Imus and Wolf were discussing Jones' request Saturday that people stop using his nickname. Wolf explained Jones was suspended from the NFL following a shooting at a Las Vegas nightclub, and he added that Jones had been "arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005."

Imus' next words were, "What color is he?"

The segment appears to have had a common theme with earlier segments. While talking about Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open, Imus asked about the race of runner-up Rocco Mediate.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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