Americans should forgive Donald Sterling for his racist remarks — but allowing him to keep the Los Angeles Clippers is another story, says Bill Courtney, the football coach featured in the Oscar-winning film "Undefeated."
"JFK said, always forgive your enemies but never forget their names," Courtney told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"What he meant by that was especially as a Christian … what kind of hypocrite would I be to expect forgiveness in my own life but not grant it to another human being?
"[Sterling] absolutely deserves forgiveness if his request for it is sincere. Does that entitle him to stay involved in the organization?.... He deserves forgiveness, but that doesn't mean he deserves to keep the team."
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In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sterling apologized and asked for forgiveness for telling his girlfriend not to bring black guests to Clippers games. He has been banned for life from the NBA.
Courtney — author with Michael Arkush of "Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love,"
published by Weinstein Books — is not convinced that Sterling's wife should be able to take over the team to keep it in the family.
"You can’t burden someone else with another’s mistake, but there's a big difference in forgiveness and a pardon," Courtney said.
"So I do think he deserves forgiveness, but does his family deserve to be lopped up into the quagmire that he created for himself with his mouth? No, I don't think that's fair either."
Courtney, a lumber company owner who, as a volunteer coach, helped a severely underfunded a high school football team in Memphis to victory, said he runs his operations on the core tenet of civility.
"The way we treat those we oppose says more about us than our own opinions do," he said.
"Grace appears in a forgiving heart. Character, it's not how we handle our successes, it's how we handle our failures.''
Courtney's success with his student athletes was the subject of the PG-13 rated movie "Undefeated," which won an Academy Award for best documentary of 2011.
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