Sunday, September 12, 2010

For want of an apology, a Pro Bowl guard was lost

Okay, who was right in the apology scenario described below - Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, or Logan Mankins, [soon to be former] New England Patriot?

About two weeks ago, Mankins and his agent Frank Bauer arrived at the Patriots training facility in Foxboro, Mass., with both sides intending and believing they would be able to hammer out a long-term deal similar to the seven-year, $56.7 million contract that Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans signed with New Orleans in the spring.

Shortly before the deal could be consummated, the Patriots asked Mankins to apologize to Patriots owner Robert Kraft for comments he made in June, questioning the New England owner's integrity. Mankins did. He called Kraft, apologized and explained why he spoke out in the way he did. It was a nice conversation and it paved the way for Mankins' long-term deal to be consummated.

Then, about 90 minutes later, just before finalizing the deal, the Patriots requested Mankins issue a public apology. Not only did Mankins refuse, but he became offended, according to sources. The optimism that had been built, the momentum that the talks had generated, completed collapsed -- and even regressed.

Now Mankins no longer wants to play in New England, and the Patriots may be forced to trade him with no resolution in sight.

[Full story here. Mankins' original words regarding Kraft were: "Right now, this is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people. This is what I thought the foundation of the Patriots was built on. Apparently, I was wrong. Growing up, I was taught a man's word is his bond. Obviously this isn't the case with the Patriots."]

Instinctively, I'd have said that Bob Kraft and the Patriots might be cutting off their collective nose, spiting their team's face. Sure, pride matters. And, sure, team discipline matters. But how far will you take that? We are taught that a person should be מעביר על מדותיו, should forgive his rights.

But, on the other hand, keep in mind Rabbi Yosi's words (Yerushalmi Bava Kama 8:7):
If one pursues forgiveness, what does the Torah say? ‘He will redeem his soul from passing into destruction.’
R’ Yosi said: This is true only if his sin was anything other than creation of a bad reputation. One who created a bad reputation for another will never be forgiven.

And add in the explanation of Rav Yosef Karo, citing the Terumat haDeshen (Beit Yosef Choshen Mishpat 420): Because perhaps someone who heard the slander did not hear the apology.

So perhaps I'd side with Mr. Kraft, after all.

Interesting thoughts, leading up to Yom Kippur.


  1. Perhaps a lawyer here can comment, but it is my impression that in US law apologies can be dangerous. They can be considered admissions of liability. In this case a public apology theoretically could have been used against Mankins in a slander suit. Someone who is otherwise regrets an action might be quite hesitant to subject himself to civil liability in excess of any damage he might have caused.

  2. Marc-
    I hear, although I've also heard enough semi-apologies from athletes and politicians to know that they manage it, somehow.