Johnson apologizes for comment

Greetings-

Notes from Tuesday.

1. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, whose oft-unfettered tongue and unwillingness to back down to rival Georgia have earned him the admiration of Tech fans, apologized for a poor choice of words on his radio show Tuesday night.

Near the end of his show, a caller, presumably a Georgia Bulldogs fan, came on the air and said, “Hello? Hello?” and then began barking before either hanging up or being cut off. Johnson responded, “Hello? Hello? He just got off from Walmart.”

Johnson, who earlier in the day had commented how most Georgia fans he encounters are cordial, said, “Anybody who calls into a radio show and barks is either retarded or doesn’t have a life.”

After the show, Johnson said he meant his response as a joke, “but it was a poor choice of words on my part and I sincerely apologize. It was not my intention to offend anyone.”

Advocates for people with mental disabilities have campaigned to stop the use of the word “retard” or “retarded” as a slur, calling it hurtful and dehumanizing.

(Not sure what to say. It was a poor choice of words.)

2. A-back Orwin Smith, who sat out last Saturday’s game with a toe injury, practiced Tuesday and will try to play in Saturday’s game against Georgia.

“I will at least try,” Smith said Tuesday. “The worst that can happen is me going out there and me not being able to play, but I will give it a shot.”

Smith said he ran full speed at practice and “limped around a couple times,” but overall said he felt great. Smith is the Yellow Jackets’ most dangerous playmaker on offense. He averages 10.8 yards per carry and 23.8 yards per reception and has scored 11 touchdowns in 65 offensive touches. He has been receiving a variety of treatments, including hot and cold tubs and ultrasound, to stimulate healing of his turf toe injury, typically a painful malady.

Wide receiver Stephen Hill and A-back Roddy Jones were held out of practice for the second day in a row, but both expected to return to practice Wednesday and play. Guard Will Jackson practiced but was kept out of contact drills.

(The fact that Smith may be hampered is, obviously, noteworthy. Bears watching.)

3. Hal Miller, an All-American offensive tackle and a co-captain of Tech’s 1952 national championship team, died Monday following a short illness. He was 81.

In 1952, Miller helped lead the Jackets to a 12-0 record and a Sugar Bowl win over Mississippi, giving them the titled awarded by the International News Service. Born in Kingsport, Tenn., Miller was enshrined in the Georgia Tech, Georgia and Tennessee sports halls of fame.

The school is working on a tribute to honor both Miller and legendary Georgia play-by-play voice Larry Munson, who died Sunday, at Saturday’s game.

(While it’s sad news, I do hope that both are honored before the game.)

4. Hill is friends with one Georgia player he’ll likely see plenty on Saturday, cornerback Branden Smith. The two hung out last summer, Hill said. They played each other in high school and Hill played basketball and long jumped against another Georgia corner, Brandon Boykin.

“They’re real fast,” Hill said. “Their technique is great, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

5. Defensive coordinator Al Groh on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray:

“He’s certainly as good as we’ve seen. We compare him and his skill level to (Clemson quarterback) Tajh Boyd. He moves very well within the pocket as well as getting out. … He’s always got his feet underneath his shoulders. He re-sets very quickly. He makes a lot of big throws when the rush initially makes him move off his normal throwing spot without leaving the pocket.”

(One thing I appreciate about Groh: No player assessment will ever be, “Kid’s got a rocket for an arm.”)

6. Wide receiver Tyler Melton has been playing his best football the past two or three games, Johnson said. Melton has seven catches in the past three games for 122 yards, including three for 54 yards against Duke. The seven receptions are more than he had in any of his first three seasons and as many receptions as he had in the first eight games of this season. He has also blocked particularly well over that stretch.

Johnson said he’s not making a concerted effort to get Melton the ball, “but when the ball’s gone his way, he’s made a couple of nice catches and come down with it.”

(Melton has shown some nice ability to adjust for passes. I have no idea what his draft stock is, but he’s shown plenty of other skills – namely blocking ability and special teams play. If he can keep up his pass catching, he’ll hopefully get a shot in somebody’s camp. Remember that Kevin Cone – who caught six passes last year – fought his way onto the Falcons practice squad.)

7. Tuesday, Johnson dismissed an Internet report that Mississippi had contacted representatives for Johnson regarding its coaching opening.

“I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “That stuff’s crazy.”

I want to thank the posters who have kept things clean and respectful, for the most part. I was very tempted to not post the notes on the blog, because this seems like a fire waiting to happen, but decided that you deserved a chance to comment on it. If the posts aren’t respectful, however, I’ve got no problem closing commenting, and probably for the rest of the week. Please don’t be the bad apple that spoils it for everyone.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

422 comments Add your comment

Delbert D.

November 22nd, 2011
10:55 pm

Thanks, Ken. I’d like to see Coach Johnson comment further on this through live media.

Dog kicker

November 22nd, 2011
10:58 pm

TVFan

November 22nd, 2011
10:58 pm

Thanks again Ken for the great coverage.

bob in nc

November 22nd, 2011
11:00 pm

thanks again Ken for the updates. have a happy and safe thanksgiving everyone

Dog kicker

November 22nd, 2011
11:02 pm

I hope he does not go to Miss or anywhere else for that matter but I can see where other schools would be calling, Im glad cause that just means he is doing a great job, what would worry me is if nobody else wanted him.

Hy Ronatt

November 22nd, 2011
11:05 pm

Zing! The truth shall set you free!

Hayseed Dixie

November 22nd, 2011
11:08 pm

Ken,

After all the vitriol that follows your coverage- which is almost always objective and numbers-based- you expect folks to politely discuss this?

I’ll pray for you. :) .

Hit a Single

November 22nd, 2011
11:08 pm

Somebody better tell Coach Johnson that a UGA graduate, Billy Payne saved the facilities at Ga. Tech by bringing the Olympics to Atlanta. Very disappointed in Coach Johnson. Great Coach that needs to take a deep breath and think sometimes before he speaks.

TechFan

November 22nd, 2011
11:09 pm

LOL Loved coach Johnson’s comment. Who care’s anyways, it was probably true.

He was obviously kidding and people are way to sensitive.

Man up folks, the Gagger deserved it.

wreckbone

November 22nd, 2011
11:10 pm

and that is why we hate uga because there are too many guys like that. Anyone catch the end of the UGA game of 08. that’s the one where Johnson turned to some finer UGA fans and had Dionne choice words for their behavior during the game being overly obnoxious. Then he runs out on the field and shakes hands. It’s amazing how he had to apologize for that type of behavior. He’ll have the jackets ready to play.

George Stein

November 22nd, 2011
11:17 pm

I’m not certain why he needed to apologize, but whatever.

Beat Georgia.

dawgum

November 22nd, 2011
11:21 pm

How does Paul Johnson keep getting away with his idiotic comments over and over again but nobody from the media or the Tech administration seems to mind or care who he offends in the process?

ToeMeetsLeather

November 22nd, 2011
11:24 pm

Not one of CPJ’s finer moments. Very poor choice of words. Slang for folks with disabilities is right there with racist comments in my book. Glad coach issued an immediate apology. Stay focused on the game coach and please take the high road next time.

Go Jackets!

dawgum

November 22nd, 2011
11:26 pm

Yeah but he issued the apology through a spokesman rather than having the guts to do it personally!

ToeMeetsLeather

November 22nd, 2011
11:30 pm

Might want to check on your “glass house” dawgum.

S'paw_99

November 22nd, 2011
11:31 pm

I’m a lifelong GT fan & currently a Sr. Business major. And there is NO reason he should have had to apologize for that comment. He is absolutely right, anyone that calls into a radio show just to bark is an idiot, has no life, & probably just got off from Wal-Mart.

Tek

November 22nd, 2011
11:36 pm

Dawgum, please stop calling the coach’s show and barking, even if you did get a good deal at WalMart

GTBob

November 22nd, 2011
11:37 pm

Its a term that alot of people use privately when joking around. He messed up and used it publicly. He apologized like he should. It was still pretty funny though.

ToeMeetsLeather

November 22nd, 2011
11:38 pm

It’s the use of the word “retard’ 99. Glad he apologized. Time to learn from mistakes on move on.

Frank Harvey - No. 7

November 22nd, 2011
11:41 pm

Are Tech fans embarrassed by a coach who advises his team’s fans to punch people in the face and makes fun of mentally challenged folks? For an institution which prides itself on being above other schools it seems to tolerate a lot from this PE Major from Western Carolina.

dawgum

November 22nd, 2011
11:42 pm

The Walmart comment wasn’t the problem. It was the “Retard” that was out of line. If Richt had said something like, Bradley and Schultz would have already written 2 or 3 columns condemning him but it’s a great coaching ploy by Johnson trying to rally his players according to the AJC. BTW I like shopping at Walmart and you’re lying if you say otherwise Tekkie!

old man

November 22nd, 2011
11:44 pm

S’paw, he absolutely needed to apologize. As soon as you use the term “retarded” in a mocking manner, you manage to mock the very last people that deserve mocking on this earth. Johnson either doesn’t have very much class, or he isn’t mature enough yet to be making public statements while representing a major university. Which is it?

Class

November 22nd, 2011
11:46 pm

How old is Paul Johnson? He seems to lack emotional control does not think before he speaks. Whether it’s yelling at the GT sideline reporter after a question, encouraging people to punch UGA fans, or making fun of mentally handicapped individuals, many of whom actually are employed at Walmart, he will continue to make statements like this that reflect poorly on Georgia Tech.

NiquePhotog

November 22nd, 2011
11:46 pm

I actually like Target more. There aren’t many convenient Wal-Marts around the GT area.

I know where you’re coming from though. My girlfriend goes to UGA and she likes Wal-Mart more.

Jon Tenuta

November 22nd, 2011
11:48 pm

Mark Richt adopts children with disabilities and Paul Johnson makes fun of them…..wow.

Right On Time

November 22nd, 2011
11:48 pm

Open mouth, insert foot. Again.

No doubt, the caller certainly does not appear to be a top level contributor to society.

However, even children know better than to call someone a retard. To disparage employees from
Wal-Mart or McDonalds publicly is pretty arrogant as well.

Although a good coach, CPJ often conducts himself like an impetuous child.

HawkDawg

November 22nd, 2011
11:50 pm

What a piece. I can’t believe Yech fans would be OK with this. He may be your coach, but the word “retard” is not appropriate. Shame on Paul Johnson. He’s really showing his –s this week.

Giff Smith

November 22nd, 2011
11:52 pm

This is why I left GT…..Johnson is a jerk and an embarrassment.

George Stein

November 22nd, 2011
11:53 pm

We get it. UGA fans don’t like Paul Johnson. We don’t care.

George Stein

November 22nd, 2011
11:55 pm

“What a piece. I can’t believe Yech fans would be OK with this. He may be your coach, but the word “retard” is not appropriate. Shame on Paul Johnson. He’s really showing his –s this week.”

- a fan of the team with Todd Grantham as DC

GTBob

November 22nd, 2011
11:56 pm

Awe. UGA fans are upset. I am sure none of you have ever used that word before. We all know that UGA fans are beacons of class.

HawkDawg

November 22nd, 2011
11:57 pm

We get it. Tech fans think this is THEIR year . . . . again. We know better.

George Stein

November 22nd, 2011
11:58 pm

I actually think we’ll lose, HankDawg, but whatever.

dawgum

November 23rd, 2011
12:01 am

GT Bob – The difference is we are not the head coach representing our school and team with our crude comments!

George Stein's Paralegal

November 23rd, 2011
12:01 am

GT Bob….if you do not see the difference between a comment by the head coach of the football team and fans then you need help.

gtkenz

November 23rd, 2011
12:02 am

Every other comment in these blogs say as much. Why should he apologize………..especially since he probably gave the idiot a comment. Walmart, I’d say many Ugag fans would love to get hired by Walmart.

And as far as retard, well that’s been around for years. Thin skinned people need to get tough. Political correctness is way over rated. It’s a blog, a radio show, etc. It’s not like CPJ called out someone in the crowd. This had better not escalate, becuase Ugag has more low life idiot fans than any team in the nation.

You watch on Saturday………6:00 AM, sitting on a chair on top of their 4-wheel drives barking like the idiots they are at every Tech fan that comes to the game. Retards, idiots, low lifes, non-educated, trash. That pretty much sums up Ugag. Seen it a thousand times.

George Stein's Paralegal

November 23rd, 2011
12:06 am

Some non-football blogs are already picking up on this statement……it will be on news websites across the country and world tomorrow…..I say it’s on Drudge by noon……….way to go Coach!!!!!!

GTBob

November 23rd, 2011
12:06 am

He apologized. Get over it. One of the things Tech fans love about CPJ is that he is not scripted. We don’t want a boring coach who never says anything except normal coach speak.

dawgum

November 23rd, 2011
12:08 am

WOW Gtkenz you really made GT fans look classy with that “educated” response! You actually succeeded in making Paul Johnson look more sensitive than his own fans!

George Stein

November 23rd, 2011
12:08 am

A simple Google search of “Paul Johnson” retard returned only results on the AJC. Poor research by my paralegal.

Jimmy the Cricket

November 23rd, 2011
12:08 am

See, had Richt used the word “retard” GTBob and every other Tech fan would have wanted to hang Richt….but if CPJ says it it’s ok. So double standard.

George Stein's Paralegal

November 23rd, 2011
12:09 am

Yes GT Bob, it is quite impressive to watch a grown man feed off his emotions.

George Stein

November 23rd, 2011
12:10 am

Double standard is a losing argument. Stick to substantive ones if you want to be successful.

GTBob

November 23rd, 2011
12:13 am

Yes GT Bob, it is quite impressive to watch a grown man feed off his emotions.

What emotions? It was a poorly worded joke. Nothing else.

Jimmy the Cricket

November 23rd, 2011
12:14 am

Just be honest with yourself Stein, had Richt said someone was retarded, every Tech fan on these boards would have said something like “Richt has no class!” or “Richt himself is a retard!” Get my drift? You guys would have been quick to jump on Richt. But just because Paul “boob boy” Johnson said it all is good and fine. You guys are simply pathetic. “Retard” is not a nice word. It’s very mean and very hurtful to people who may have people in their family with disabilities.

Stay Classy CPJ.

HawkDawg

November 23rd, 2011
12:16 am

I really enjoying sitting back and watching all of these Insect fans on here throw the word “retard” around like it were nothing. What would you do if a parent of a special needs child were around? Be completely honest with yourself and think about that. You wouldn’t be so quick to say “retard” would you? You guys are really showing what Tech is about . . . grow up.

George Stein

November 23rd, 2011
12:18 am

You’re gonna get banned, Puhlease.

dawgum

November 23rd, 2011
12:19 am

Figured out Paul Johnson’s blog name……..Puhlease

2HellwithGA

November 23rd, 2011
12:19 am

HawkDawg

November 23rd, 2011
12:21 am

Seriously, families of special needs people face harder challenges and go through more in a day than you losers do in a year. I’m not even speaking of Paul Johnson anymore. I talking about the ones commenting above me. Ignorance. That’s all it is. It’s not “joking” ’cause it’s NOT funny.