Packer: Not insensitive, despite word in interview

Posted: April 05, 2007

CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer said he wasn't being insensitive or homophobic when he made a comment while being interviewed Friday from Atlanta on The Charlie Rose Show, which airs on PBS.

At the end of the interview, Rose, who was in New York, asked Packer whether he needed a runner for the Final Four. "Because I could jump on a plane and could be there," Rose said.

To that Packer responded, "You always fag out on that one for me, you know. You always say, oh, yes, I'm going to be the runner, then you never show up."

Audio and video clips of that interview have been appearing on Internet sites.

"I said he fagged out on me and it had nothing to do with sexual connotation," Packer said yesterday in a phone interview. "I got to know Charlie a number of years ago and have great admiration for his program and intellect. He is a big Dukie, and he has been talking a number of years about coming to the Final Four to be a runner."

Dictionary.com defines fag out as meaning "to tire or weary by labor; exhaust."

Which is what Packer said he meant.

"The term has nothing to do with sexuality," Packer said. "I think he is the most eligible bachelor. It's about a guy too lazy to get the work."

LeslieAnne Wade, CBS vice president, communications, said that Packer could have displayed better judgment.

"I said it may be a poor choice of words, but Billy used the phrase as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, among others," Wade said.

What Packer is probably most guilty of is being out of touch, which isn't the first time this charge has been leveled. In 1996 he referred to then-Georgetown point guard (now former 76er) Allen Iverson as a "tough monkey." Packer himself said he is not a politically correct person.

The 67-year-old Packer just completed his 33d consecutive year covering the Final Four, including the last 26 with CBS.

And despite this latest controversy, he insists that he did nothing wrong. Packer said the expression comes out of the word fatigue.

"I can assure you I will use that phrase again and I won't think twice about it," he said. "My meaning is genuine."

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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