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Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer the Brunt of Inappropriate and Insensitive 'Joke'

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03: Head coach Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on against the Stanford Cardinal during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanford won 40-12. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Jeff CockeyCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2011

Ryan Wilson an editor for backporch.fanhouse.com wrote the following column the other day about Pat Dooley, a sports columnist for The Gainesville Sun.

Keep in mind when reading this column that Pat Dooley is a sports writer and not a professional comedian. Not that being a comedian would excuse the poor taste displayed by Dooley nor excuse the fact that his self-proclaimed “joke” wasn’t at all funny. Pat, it wasn’t even in the same zip code as funny.

Whether you are a fan of Virginia Tech sports or not, Dooley’s statement was just plain inconsiderate and stupid. Here is the link to the original column.

I am assuming that everyone clicked on the link above and read the column written by Ryan Wilson. If not, Pat Dooley, in tweeting about the condition of the turf during the Raven's-Chiefs game said " why does kansas city's field look like Frank Beamer's face?"

Let me first say that Pat Dooley has a job that most of us would love to have. Many of us write these columns for Bleacher Report and other organizations in the hopes of one day becoming paid sports writers like Pat Dooley.

Just remember Mr. Dooley, the next time you stick your foot in your mouth that you are very fortunate to hold the position that you hold and I’m sure there are plenty of people in Gainesville who would like to take your place and write for the Sun.

Over the years I have heard many explanations describing Frank Beamer’s skin grafts. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

"In 1954, when Beamer was seven years old, he used a push broom to help keep a pile of burning trash in place. When the job was done he returned the broom to the garage, not knowing that its bristles were still smoldering. A spark ignited a can of nearby gasoline, that exploded in front of him. His 11-year old brother, Barnett, saved him by rolling him around on the ground, but Frank was left with burns on the right side of his neck, chest and his shoulders. Over the next few years dozens of skin grafts left him with permanent scarring."

I am not exactly sure what is funny about Frank Beamer’s childhood drama, but I can honestly say that never have I looked at a football field (or anything for that matter) and equated the condition the turf was in to a burn victim. Maybe that is why I’m not a “comedian” or paid sportswriter like Mr. Dooley. Dooley’s comment was in very poor taste.

The worst part about the debacle is the fact that Pat Dooley wasn’t (at first) a decent enough person to recognize the fact that his comment was not only insensitive but also extremely inappropriate. Instead Dooley chose the low road and issued a half-hearted, dismissive apology. As Ryan Wilson points out, Pat Dooley can dish it out but when someone challenged him Dooley didn’t want to hear it.

After enough complaints Pat Dooley did eventually back track and stated, "I have great respect for Coach Beamer. Have met him several times, and he's a great man. To be honest, I wasn't trying to take a shot at him. Just making a bad analogy.”

He continued by saying that "as a cancer survivor with lasting disabilities, I know how it can sting when someone has fun at your expense. But, again, I didn't mean it as hateful or harmful to Frank. Just being stupid and silly.” I will agree with the “stupid” part Pat.

Dooley also used his employer to apologize formally to everyone for his comments. According to dailypress.com, he wrote this on The Gainesville Sun’s website.

"I called Coach Beamer on Monday to apologize personally." Dooley went on to say, "I apologize to everyone who saw this Tweet or heard about it. Not only was this a violation of company and Gainesville Sun policy, it was simply uncalled for and dumb."

I appreciate Mr. Dooley’s apologies and I hope that they were brought on by sincere recognition of wrongdoing and not out of fear of losing his job. Not knowing the man personally, I will take him at his word that he is sincere.

I, for one, do not believe that Pat Dooley should lose his job over this comment. It has to be difficult to be constantly in the public eye with many people reading your thoughts. Most people in such a position will slip up every now and then. It’s just inevitable. Thank you for realizing your mistake Pat and thank you for apologizing directly to Beamer.

*foxsports.com and dailypress.com were referenced for quotes used in this column

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