In the media business, you're always one screw-up (perceived or otherwise) away from finding a new line of work. It's very comforting to know.
On that note, back when Lin-Sanity was still a media-heavy thing, circa 2012, ESPN employee Anthony Federico was fired after writing the headline "Chink in the Armor" for a mobile site article that held a critical viewpoint of then-Knicks star Jeremy Lin. After a predictable torrent of social media outrage over the poorly concocted headline about Lin (whose parents emigrated from Taiwan), Federico says he "went to the bathroom and vomited." He also wrote a lengthy apology shortly after he was let go.
That was more than five years ago. And, as is the case with many, many bite-sized controversies in a 24/7 media environment, we all sort of moved on and forgot about it/him. The world continues to turn. However, as reported by The Washington Post on Monday, Federico now stands on the brink of becoming a Catholic priest. Didn't see that one coming.
"Looking back, I think God allowed this to happen to me to put me on a path to being a priest, a path that I was avoiding," the 33-year-old said. "I’ve never been happier." As the Post writes about Federico's journey since that ill-fated day that caused his career path to do a 180:
In his five years at Theological College, the seminary at Catholic University in Northeast Washington, Federico has worked in several parishes and with all sorts of people—from young students to hospice patients, from new parents preparing for a baptism to couples celebrating their weddings to families burying a loved one.
Often, when someone seeks his counsel while in the depths of despair, he gently tells them his own story—the hate mail, the death threats, the despondent struggle even to get out of bed as the world condemned him as a racist.
While Lin declined to comment on the story, the Post wrote that the two men had lunch shortly after the initial outcry, that Lin accepted Federico's explanation that he never intentionally meant for the headline to be racially charged, and that they bonded over their shared Christian faith.
"Everyone thinking of me as a bad person, an evil person—it was the worst 30 days of my life," Federico told the Post. "To think I could be in a place now where I’m genuinely happy with my life and excited about serving the people of God... if you told me that then, I wouldn’t have believed it. I think the thing that Jesus does best is second chances."
Federico added that when he entered the seminary and explained why he was canned by ESPN, very few people gave him grief over it. He also answered the question of whether or not this was a route he would've gone if he hadn't been fired by The Worldwide Leader in Sports, to which he said, "I don’t know. I do know that I want to be a Catholic priest more than anything in the world. If being fired is what it took. ... I can look back years later and say, 'Thank you, God, for that.'"
Not sure if this qualifies as one of those "works in mysterious ways" things that you hear from people who've been in car accidents because they weren't paying attention to a stop sign or something. Either way, you can go over and read the whole thing at The Washington Post. It's definitely interesting, but you can be your own judge.