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Ted Turner: Give Rocker a Chance

January 20, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner, no stranger to controversy over his own public statements, says pitcher John Rocker deserves another chance to atone for disparaging remarks about immigrants, minorities and homosexuals.

``I think he was off his rocker when he said those things,″ Turner said Wednesday on CNN’s ``Moneyline,″ his first public comments on the Rocker flap.

Turner pointed out that the ace left-handed reliever has apologized.

``I don’t think we ought to hold it against him forever,″ Turner said. ``He didn’t commit a crime.″

The Braves have been under pressure from some quarters to discipline Rocker, 25, who told Sports Illustrated last month that he would never play for a New York team because he didn’t want to ride a subway train ``next to some queer with AIDS.″ He also said, ``I’m not a very big fan of foreigners. ... How the hell did they get in this country?″

He also called a black teammate a ``fat monkey.″

Turner, whose nickname is ``Mouth of the South,″ has managed to insult Christians, blacks and women, and once compared media magnate Rupert Murdoch to Adolf Hitler.

The team owner agreed with the approach of baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who two weeks ago ordered Rocker to undergo psychological tests. Selig has not announced a decision on whether he would suspend or fine Rocker.

Turner also said he believes Rocker’s talent heightened reaction to what he said.

``If he couldn’t get people out, I don’t think it would have been as much of a problem,″ Turner said.

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