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White’s Comments May Hurt CBS Hopes

March 27, 1998

Reggie White’s comments on race and homosexuality might have scuttled his hopes for a sports broadcasting job with CBS, but church colleagues said Friday he was welcome back to their pulpits anytime.

``I’m not his judge. God might be saying, `Good job, Reggie,′ ″ said the Rev. Andrea Dudley of Capital Christian Center in Milwaukee, where White has spoken in the past.

White’s comments Wednesday to the Wisconsin Legislature calling homosexuality a sin and using stereotypes to describe different races continued to draw fire from civil rights groups.

But Dudley said she knew White’s message was one of racial harmony and Biblical concepts.

``He was ministering a message, a sermon, and while they may not have been expecting it, he did what he thought the Lord led him to do,″ Dudley said.

Stuart Briscoe, senior pastor at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, a Milwaukee suburb, also said White could speak there again. White has preached there once before.

``I haven’t heard him say anything that would disqualify him from being with us,″ Briscoe said.

CBS Sports spokeswoman Leslie Anne Wade would not say whether White had spoiled his prospects for an analyst’s job he auditioned for. But Wade said CBS takes a firm stand against bias, an indication White’s comments might have taken him out of the running.

``CBS has a hard-and-fast corporate policy against bias of any kind,″ Wade said. ``Reggie White is not an employee of CBS, so I wouldn’t comment on Reggie White specifically.″

White’s speech also might have left his endorsement deals with Campbell Soup Co. and athletic shoe giant Nike up in the air.

``We have not made any judgments, but it is under review,″ said Nike spokesman Tony Tijerino.

Campbell spokeswoman Ronni Heyman said the company has been trying to contact White, who has a one-year contract with the company that expires next week.

``His comments are not consistent with the principles of the Campbell Soup company, but at this time, until we speak directly with Reggie White, we’re not going to go any further in talking about the future,″ Heyman said.

A coalition of gay and lesbian organizations called on Campbell to sever ties with White, and asked the NFL to publicly censure him for his ``racist and anti-gay″ remarks.

Letters to Campbell Soup and the NFL were signed by leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the Latino/a Gay and Lesbian Organization.

NFL spokesman Dan Masonson said the league had no comment on White’s remarks. The Packers also declined to comment.

White did not return repeated telephone messages left Friday by The Associated Press at the Packers’ offices and with his agent, Jimmy Sexton. White was in Green Bay, where he has a home, said Amy Wilson, a spokeswoman for Sexton.

White told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Friday’s editions that he stood by his comments and did not regret anything he said.

``I know the type of person I am, I know I care about people,″ he said. ``But I’m not going to back off what I know God has put on my heart to share.″

Meanwhile, White told Fox News Channel that he agreed with former CBS football analyst Jimmy ``The Greek″ Snyder, fired in 1988 after he said a black athlete was better than a white one because ``he’s been bred to be that way because of his thigh size and big size.″

Snyder also said slave owners would breed a big black with a big woman so he would have a big black child, leading to superior black athletes today.

``I agree with what Jimmy ``The Greek″ said when it came to, that slaves, bigger slaves were pretty much used as studs. And the comments that he made about that was true. That did happen,″ White told Fox.

White, 36, an ordained clergyman affiliated with a Baptist church in Knoxville, Tenn., was a guest speaker Wednesday in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Citing Scripture, White told the Assembly that one of the biggest sins is homosexuality, the Bible speaks against it and ``we’ve allowed this sin to run rampant in our nation and, because it has run rampant in our nation, our nation is in the condition it’s in today.″

White, who is black, also told the largely white audience that blacks, whites, Hispanics, Japanese, Asians and Indians have different ``gifts.″ He listed some of them, including that whites are good at tapping into money and that Hispanics have good family structure and can house 20 or 30 people under one roof.

White said his racial comments were meant to point out the positive traits of different groups.

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