Football Great Paul Hornung Makes a Statement Offensive to Blacks

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 31, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "personal story" segment tonight.  Paul Hornung (search) played for the Green Bay Packers in the Vince Lombardi glory years.  He's a football legend and a graduate of Notre Dame University (search).  Yesterday he gave an interview where he said -- well, why don't we listen to it?


PAUL HORNUNG, NFL HALL OF FAMER:  As far as Notre Dame is  concerned,we're going to have to ease it up a bit.  We can't stay as strict as we areas far as the academic structure is concerned, because we've got to get theblack athlete.  We must get the black athlete if we're going to compete.


O'REILLY:  All right, obviously, when I heard that today, my head snapped back and I went, "hold it." The implication is that black athletesaren't smart enough or aren't as smart as white athletes.  And you just can't say stuff like that.

Joining us now from Washington is Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Should black Americans be offended by this or just let it go saying, hey, look, this guy -- it's obvious to me that he didn't want to hurt anybody's  feelings. He just said something dumb. How do you see it?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, you know what?He's locked in a different era, Bill.  I think, you know, the golden boygoes back to the `50's and `60's.  And I think his statements are revealingof attitudes that maybe he doesn't even realize he has.  And maybe he andhis pals think that's all acceptable to say that black athletes reallycan't meet the academic standards necessary to get into Notre Dame or anyof these other schools.

The reason that black people can't let that go, Bill, is there are somany negative stereotypes about black intelligence, about black capacity todo a job,  to get an opportunity in this country and go forward.  You can'tapply it to black people and then say to black people, you know what?You're doing well enough, let it pass.

I think somebody has to point out the inherent racism in thatstatement.  It's not that Paul Horning had any malicious intent.  I don'treally believe he did.


WILLIAMS:  I think he was talking about what was best for Notre Dame,trying to get the best athletes.  But he didn't talk about Irish athletes,Italian athletes, Jewish athletes.  He specifically targeted black athletesas the ones who can't meet the academic standards.

O'REILLY:  Right and.

WILLIAMS:  And that's offensive.

O'REILLY:  And I understand what you're saying.  You say, look, themajority, white America, has got to understand why this kind of stuff ispainful for the minority blacks.

Now here's the irony of it.  Notre Dame has 55 percent black athleteson its football team.  The average division I has 44 percent.  So just thefact that Notre Dame has 11 percent more black athletes on its footballteam belies the  fact that they can't get in because they're not smartenough.  Of course they can get in.  They're there.

WILLIAMS:  They're there.

O'REILLY:  And the second thing is that Hornung has apologized andsaid he should have said all athletes.  They have to, you know, have lowerstandards so they can get better athletes.

But you know, here's the way I see it.  And I think you're absolutelyright, by the way.  I'm an Irish guy.  And if he said, look, we've got todrop standards to get more Irish athletes in here because they're just notsmart enough to pass the test and do the work, I wouldn't care.  Thatwouldn't bother me.  I don't care what Paul Hornung says about Irishathletes.  Who cares?

But I'm not in the minority.  I don't lose jobs.  I don't get a hardtime buying a house.  I don't have to prove myself because I'm a color.  Soto me it doesn't matter.  Back to black Americans or Hispanic or Asian, itdoes matter.

WILLIAMS:  It matters big time, Bill.  And I'm going to tell yousomething else.  People who are going to watch the basketball tournamentthis weekend, the NCAAs, final four's, they're going to see a lot of youngAfrican American males out there.  It's the one arena where you could sayAfrican-American males  truly excel in American life.  Maybe you might addpop music or something.

But what you're going to see is most of those kids, most of thosestudent  athletes as they call them really aren't student athletes, becausethey aren't students.  They don't graduate.  The terrible graduation ratefor most of these big schools.

And so people look at them and they realize something wrong is goingon here.  Maybe that is what Paul Hornung refers to.  He knows most ofthese kids really aren't students.

O'REILLY:  No, I don't think so.  I think Hornung was saying that inthe black neighborhoods, the education isn't as good and they can't do thework that Notre Dame requires.  I think that's where he was.

WILLIAMS:  Well, you know what?  That's a sympathetic interpretation,because if that's the case, if he's saying he realizes that an inferioreducation is being offered in many of the minority communities in thiscountry.

O'REILLY:  No, I don't think he's saying that.

WILLIAMS:  .and we can do better job at educating kids.

O'REILLY:  Right.

WILLIAMS:  .I'd say way to  go, Paul Hornung.

O'REILLY:  No, no, no.  I don't think he was saying that.  I think hewas saying that his perception is the education isn't that good in theblack neighborhoods.   And they don't get the basics that they should.

WILLIAMS:  Oh, I was worried that he was saying he didn't think theintelligence was there and you had to lower the standards in order to getthese kids in.


WILLIAMS:  .rather than raise the education they received.

O'REILLY:  Yes, I see what you mean.  There's a difference betweenintelligence and education.

WILLIAMS:  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  But I'm not going to assign him the worst motivation forthat because I don't think he's a bad man.

WILLIAMS:  Oh, I don't think he is a bad guy.  But look, you know,someone said -- I remember when Terry Bradshaw was a quarterback for thePittsburgh Steelers.  People used to say Terry Bradshaw wasn't all thatsmart, a  southern boy, all the rest.  But you know what?  It really didn'tstop Terry Bradshaw from excelling and then going on to a career inbroadcasting.

But when you think about someone like Al Companas, remember the guywho used to work for the Dodgers, who came out and said blacks don't havethe  capability, the mental wherewithal to be managers in Major Leaguebaseball.  And he was given the opportunity to pull himself out of a holeby Ted Koppel in that interview.


WILLIAMS:  He just kept going, because you know what, the world thathe lived in -- that's what they thought about black people.

O'REILLY:  Black people are trapped, Juan, to their prejudices andthey don't even know it.  And that's what the.

WILLIAMS:  That's the truth, Bill.  You're speaking the truth.

O'REILLY:  All right, Juan, thanks very much.

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