ESPN suspended regular TV presence Bob Ryan for calling colleague Mark Jackson a “Bible-pounding phony” and “con man,” among other insults, on the Dan Le Batard Show, as first reported by The Big Lead. Ryan appears regularly on Around the Horn and Sports Reporters, and sometimes guest hosts Pardon the Interruption. But he made no appearances on ESPN between January 6, the day of his comments, and yesterday, when he returned to the airwaves for Sports Reporters. He’ll also be on Around the Horn twice this week.
While Jackson is a Bible-pounding phony—the former Warriors coach is co-pastor of a church with his wife and literally takes to the streets to preach the gospel, but also had an affair with an ex-stripper who later extorted him with his own dong shots—ESPN has a long history of doling out punishment for even accurate criticism of colleagues, as when Bill Simmons went after First Take or Keith Law mildly rebuked Curt Schilling for his idiosyncratic opinions on evolutionary science.
The day after his remarks, Ryan was contrite, tweeting, “I made personal & disparaging radio remarks about Mark Jackson that were way over the top. Have reached out to Mark with my sincere apology.” ESPN issued a statement the next day, January 8, saying essentially the same thing. When reached for comment today an ESPN spokesperson declined to comment directly on the suspension, instead referring back to the January 8 statement.