This is an intricate little piece of modern-day racial insensitivity and old-school racism, so let’s start slow. Bob Lamey, who worked as radio play-by-play announcer for the Indianapolis Colts for over 30 years, retired suddenly on Sunday. News station 13 WTHR later revealed that he had used the N-word off the air, in front of a black colleague. Lamey’s use of the word was technically reported speech, as he was relaying what a person had once said at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway nearly 35 years ago, back when Lamey used to work there. When asked if racers were holding back their speed during qualifications, this unnamed person replied, “There aren’t any niggers in this race.”
Although Lamey lost his job, many unanswered questions remained. Who was the original N-word user being quoted here? Is he alive? What’s he up to, decades after the fact? As it turns out, he’s been found: auto racing analyst Derek Daly, who has now been cut loose from his freelance arrangement with Indianapolis station WISH-TV. Here’s the gist, straight from the network:
Daly confirms he shared the story with Lamey during a live radio interview in the early 1980s.
Daly has been a freelance race analyst for WISH-TV for 30 years.
WISH-TV never had any knowledge of Daly’s interview with Lamey.
WISH-TV is severing all ties with Derek Daly effective immediately.
It’s a plot twist that would make even Papa John The Pizza Man jealous, and a profoundly modern way to lose a gig: because some dummy blurted out the N-word in front of his black colleague while blind-quoting some racist shit you said on the air 35 years ago. You get to the end of Mission: Impossible - Racism Maneuver and pull the mask off the old white guy losing his job for saying the N-word ... only for it to be another old white guy losing his job for saying the N-word.
Update (4:38 p.m. ET): Derek Daly has since released a statement in which he admits to having used the n-word (albeit in a different situation than the one Lamey describes) and attributes his mistake to a lack of cultural context:
In the early 80’s, after I had recently relocated to the United States, I was interviewed by radio reporter Larry Henry and I was asked about my situation with my new American team. I responded by explaining that I was a foreign driver now in America, driving for an American team, with an American crew, and with an American sponsor—and that if things did not go well, the only “n***** in the wood pile” would be me.
At the time, I meant that I, as the new foreigner on the team, would shoulder the blame and I would be the scapegoat. This was not in any way shape or form meant to be a racial slur. This phrase was commonly used in Ireland, Britain, and Australia. When I used that phrase in the early 80’s, I had no idea that in this country that phrase had a horribly different meaning and connotation, as it was commonplace in Ireland.