In case you forgot, Thom Brennaman had a very bad day on August 19 of last year. On the air while calling a Cincinnati Reds game, he apparently was unaware of a hot mic and was heard using a homophobic slur. Like, a really, really bad one, with a really, really bad tone. It’s unclear what spurred his comment, but you can hear him quite clearly saying “one of the f*g capitals of the world” — and so who cares what spurred it?
On top of that, the “Thomophobic” slur was used between games of a double-header, meaning he was slated to be back on the mic shortly thereafter to call another game. He made an apology on the air during the second game:
“I made a comment earlier tonight that, I guess, went out over the air, that I am deeply ashamed of. If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I am so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith.”
And then came the part that became a meme. He broke from his apology to say “as there’s a drive to deep left field by [Nick] Castellanos and it’ll be a home run, and so that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame.”
“I don’t know if I’ll be putting on this headset again,” he continued after pausing for the home-run call.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be for the Reds. I don’t know if it’s going to be for my bosses at Fox. I want to apologize for the people that sign my paycheck — for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody I’ve offended tonight. I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am, it never has been. I’d like to think that I have some people that could back that up. I am very, very sorry and I beg for your forgiveness.”
Brennaman was immediately suspended and later fired. As he assumed would be the case, he hasn’t put the headset back on again since.
Enter ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, continuing to attempt to dig himself out of the bullshit he put himself in with his Shohei Ohtani statements earlier this week (and, somehow, he’s still on the air, which is disgusting). Smith issued his own apology.
Enter Marty Brennaman, father of Thom and himself a former Cincinnati Reds broadcaster, who felt the need to respond.
Here’s the thing, Marty. Your son used a horrific slur on the air. He absolutely deserves to have lost his job. Smith probably does as well, but unfortunately, ESPN is more concerned with ratings than integrity, so they’ll slap him on the wrist and not even go as far as to suspend him from the network. When millions of people (in Smith’s case) and all 72 Reds fans tuning in for a midweek matinee game (in Thom’s case) are watching, there’s a responsibility for the words and ideologies being presented to the viewers and listeners. Hateful comments cannot be tolerated.
Also, Marty, it’s not up to you to accept apologies on behalf of Shohei Ohtani, Asians or Japanese people (who Smith didn’t mention) and Nigerians.
People need and deserve the opportunity to grow and learn, but it doesn’t mean they deserve an opportunity to continue holding the microphone and/or serving as the voice of a team. All ESPN accomplishes by keeping Smith on the air is condoning the rhetoric that he shared. The Cincinnati Reds and Fox Sports Ohio got it right by moving on from Thom Brennaman. Unfortunately, ESPN is too cowardly to do the same. And Marty Brennaman is too “get off my lawn” to care.