Another teammate confirms Allen used “N-word”

The Virginia senator's denial spurs a former friend to come forward with memories of Allen's racial slurs: "I don't know how George can look himself in the mirror."

Topics: 2006 Elections,

Another teammate confirms Allen used "N-word"

A former football teammate of Sen. George Allen decided Friday to go on the record with recollections of the Virginia Republican’s alleged racist behavior during college.

Edward J. Sabornie, a special education professor at North Carolina State University, had previously spoken to Salon about Allen’s behavior on the condition of anonymity, because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign. In a Salon story on Sunday, Sabornie was quoted as a “teammate” who remembered Allen using the word “nigger” to describe blacks. “It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used,” Sabornie said in that article.

Sabornie said he has now decided to let his name be known because he was upset by how Allen responded this week to the Salon story. “What George said on Monday really kind of inflamed me — that it was ‘ludicrously false’ that he ever used the N-word,” Sabornie told Salon. “I don’t know how George can look himself in the mirror after saying that.”

Since Sunday, four other named acquaintances of Allen have told news organizations that they witnessed Allen using a racial epithet or demonstrating racist behavior. Allen, and his campaign staff, have denied each of the claims.

Sabornie, a registered independent who considers himself a liberal Democrat, was first contacted by Salon on Sept. 17. In the past, Sabornie said he has shown support for Allen, even writing him a congratulatory letter in 2000 after Allen was elected to the Senate.

But Sabornie said his opinion of Allen dimmed after the senator called an Indian-American student “macaca” at a recent campaign rally. “That was the catalyst,” Sabornie said. “I saw the old George.”

Days before being contacted by Salon, Sabornie said he had sent an unsolicited e-mail to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, a prominent liberal blogger at, describing his memories of Allen’s racist behavior. Sabornie said he also has posted on the DailyKos site as a reader in 2004, criticizing the performance of President Bush.

Sabornie provided the e-mail to Salon on Friday. He was the first person to alert Salon about the involvement of Moulitsas. “I never forwarded the e-mail to anyone,” said Moulitsas in a telephone interview Friday. “I didn’t have a way to confirm the story.” (In the preparation of the original article that included Sabornie’s unattributed quotes, Salon never communicated with anyone from Daily Kos, the campaign of Allen’s Democratic challenger Jim Webb or any Democratic Party entity.)

Sabornie was in Allen’s class and played football with the senator at the University of Virginia between 1971 and 1973. “We were friends,” said Sabornie, who played outside linebacker and tight end on the team. He said he remembers Allen also referring to blacks as “roaches,” and using the word “wetback” to refer to Latinos.

Sabornie said he also recalled hearing in college about a hunting trip with Allen that was rumored to have ended with a deer head being placed in a mailbox, a claim that was first made public by teammate Ken Shelton, and confirmed in part by teammate George Beam. Until Tuesday, after the Salon article came out, Sabornie said he had not spoken to Shelton for about 30 years.

“Because I was a hunter, and my teammates knew I hunted, I heard the story,” said Sabornie, who could not recall who told him. “I just remember that they cut off the doe head and stuffed it in a mailbox. I don’t remember anyone saying that George went looking specifically for black families.”

Sabornie also said that in 1991, he was a part of a pact between at least six other teammates and college acquaintances of Allen at a birthday party for a friend. He said the friends decided, after a night of drinking, that they would all swear not to speak ill of Allen as he campaigned for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In November 1991, Allen won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Virginia Rep. D. French Slaughter, who resigned because of poor health.

Sabornie declined to publicly identify the other college friends who agreed to the alleged pact. “The people who were involved will have to come forward themselves,” Sabornie said, adding that Allen was not present at the party. Sabornie said he understood the pact to only apply to that one election cycle.

Another teammate, who declined to speak on the record, confirmed that there was such a birthday party in 1991, but said that no agreement was struck among the players at that party to protect Allen.

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>