CINCINNATI -- A day after many were offended by comments he made on a local radio show calling Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel a "midget," Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis issued a second, more thoughtful apology to those who felt hurt by his word choice.
"I'm aware that my comment on local radio [Monday] night was offensive to people of short stature and to their families and friends," Lewis said in a statement. "It was thoughtless on my part to use the word I did, and not excusable, and I greatly regret it. I since have read about this issue on the Little People of America website. I understand it better, and as I have apologized to Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns' community, I offer the same to all others who I offended, and I pledge that I will learn from this.
"I hope that my mistake and the resultant publicity may serve at least to help others not make similar insensitive comments in the future."
Lewis called in to Cincinnati's WLW-AM on Monday as part of the station's weekly Bengals-centric broadcast from a bar not far from Paul Brown Stadium. It was after he was asked about how the Bengals might have to think about defending Johnny Football on Sunday in Cleveland that Lewis made the regrettable remark.
"You gotta go defend the offense. You don't defend the player," Lewis said before pausing and adding, "particularly a midget."
Little People of America Inc., an advocacy group for men and women diagnosed with dwarfism, publicly denounced use of the word midget in 2009.
About an hour after Lewis' comments went viral on social media, he issued an apology through the team.
"I apologize to Johnny, the Browns and all the fans in Cleveland," he said Monday night. "It was just a poor remark. I really didn't mean anything by it."
Manziel, a 6-foot rookie quarterback, will make his first career start Sunday when the Browns host the Bengals in a division game that has playoff implications for both teams. He will be playing in place of Brian Hoyer, who has struggled in recent weeks.
The Browns beat the Bengals 24-3 on Nov. 6 in Cincinnati.