As far as defenses against accusations of making racist remarks go, we have to say, Italian player Marco Materazzi has a particularly good one after being notoriously head-butted by Zinedine Zidane.
"I did insult him, it's true," Materazzi said in Tuesday's Gazzetta dello Sport. "But I categorically did not call him a terrorist. I'm not cultured and I don't even know what an Islamic terrorist is."
OK, that's just awesome: The old "I'm just a caveman ... I'm confused by your 'cultured' ways" defense. That's in the face of the always-reliable lip-reading experts, who claim Materazzi said Zidane was "the son of a terrorist whore," which is pretty insulting even before you note that Zidane's mother is very ill.
Meanwhile, Materazzi, of course, has his own history of on-field violence.
To sum all this up, though, we rely on the subtle, restrained words of French "intellectual" Bernard Henri-Levy in today's Wall Street Journal: Here is a man of providence, a savior, who was sought out, like Achilles in his tent of grudge and rage, because he was believed to be the only one who could avert his countrymen's fated decline. Better yet, he's a super-Achilles who — unlike Homer's — did not wait for an Agamemnon to come begging him to re-enlist ... no nasty remark will ever tell us why the planetary icon that Zinedine Zidane had become, a man more admired than the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela put together, a demigod, a chosen one, this great priest-by-consensus of the new religion and the new empire in the making, chose to explode right there.
Uh, sure, dude.
(UPDATE: Inevitably, the Daily Show has chimed in.)