Jean Fugett, Adam Jones' father-in-law and former NFL player, speaks about Fenway Park incident

Watching the Orioles' game on TV Monday night, Jean Fugett felt troubled. Activity in the stands kept diverting center fielder Adam Jones' attention, inning after inning.

"Looking at Adam, it was clear that something unusual was happening because he did a lot of gesturing to the crowd," said Fugett, who is Jones' father-in-law. "I could tell that he was having a dialogue with fans, and that it wasn't positive."


It wasn't until he woke up Tuesday morning that Fugett learned Jones had been the target of racial slurs from Red Sox fans at Boston's Fenway Park. Fugett, a former Baltimore high school star and NFL player, called the incident "painful" but said he was "not surprised" that it occurred.

"We're at a time in this country where we can expect more of this," said Fugett, 65. "Our president emboldens people to do this kind of stuff. Because of our leadership, you're going to see more bullying."

That the taunts were leveled at an All-Star player in a big league park speaks volumes, he said.

"Sports has always been a prism for race in America and now it's apparent to everyone, from the [baseball] commissioner on down, that 70 years after Jackie Robinson, racism is still an issue," Fugett said. "People feel free to express opinions like this, and those sitting next to them who permit it are just as guilty as those who are saying things. We have to stand up because condoning these acts only makes it worse."

Fugett said the matter dredged up memories of his own youth, growing up in West Baltimore. A football and basketball star at Cardinal Gibbons (now closed), he was the first African-American to be named Baltimore Catholic Athlete of the Year.

"Our graduation party was held at Milford Mill Swim Club, which was segregated," he said. That summer, 1968, he watched parts of Baltimore burn in the riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Fugett attended Amherst College, then played eight years in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

He said he hasn't spoken with Jones since Monday night, but should his son-in-law call, "I'd tell him that I'm happy he's in a position where he can speak out about this."