LOS ANGELES – Thom Brennaman will not be calling NFL games on Fox after using an anti-gay slur on air during a Cincinnati Reds broadcast.
Fox Sports issued a statement Thursday that said "we are moving forward with our NFL schedule which will not include him.” Fox also said Brennaman’s remarks were “abhorrent, unacceptable, and not representative of the values of Fox Sports.”
Brennaman had been a part of Fox's NFL announcer lineup since it started televising the league in 1994. He was part of the No. 3 announcer team last season and was paired with analyst Chris Spielman and reporter Shannon Spake. He had also called Major League Baseball games for the network from 1996 to 2014.
The Reds announced late Wednesday that the 56-year old broadcaster was suspended. The team also issued an apology for the “horrific, homophobic remark.” The Reds closed their statement by saying they would be addressing their broadcasting team for the remainder of the season and possibly beyond in the coming days.
Brennaman, who had been a part of the Reds announcing team since 2007, used the slur moments after Fox Sports Ohio's feed returned from a commercial break before the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Kansas City. Brennaman did not seem to realize he was already on air. The remarks prompted a firestorm on social media.
“It was extremely disturbing to hear Brennaman’s homophobic comments wielded so nonchalantly,” said Barbara Simon, head of news and campaigns for GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. “Those in the room with Brennaman should clarify if that level of casual homophobia existed as a constant in the booth, or if anyone stepped in.”
“Players, MLB and the network have acted swiftly to call out Brennaman’s behavior, stand beside the LGBTQ community, and send the message that it’s inexcusable to use such hateful language -- mic on or off," she said Thursday.
Brennaman opened the fifth inning of the second game with an apology spoken directly to the camera before handing off play-by-play duties to Jim Day.
He noted the trouble he was in by saying, “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again” while apologizing to the Reds, Fox Sports and his coworkers.
In a piece published by The Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday, Brennaman wrote: “I could to try to explain it or tell you about who I am and what I believe, but those things would all be excuses. The simple fact is, what I said was wrong.”
“To the LGBTQ+ community -- I am truly and deeply sorry. You should never be denigrated with crude and hateful language. I failed you, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am.”
Billy Bean, MLB’s ambassador for inclusion, praised the Reds’ swift action to suspend Brennaman.
“The unfortunate event that occurred last night in Cincinnati was disheartening. The Reds’ immediate response and statement are a powerful example of MLB’s zero-tolerance policy for harassment, discrimination, or bias toward the LGBTQ+ community or any person at any time,” he said.
“There is no doubt where MLB stands in regard to respect and acceptance for our players, coaches, employees, fans, and our television viewers,” he said. “Last night is a difficult reminder that there is still much work to do. We will pause for a moment, and utilize this incident as a learning opportunity for every one of our stakeholders.”
Even though most regional networks still carry the Fox Sports name, they are not owned by Fox. Sinclair Broadcast Group bought them in 2019.
The Reds announcers were working from Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Teams are not sending announcers to road games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The son of Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman, Thom has called major league games for 33 years and has been with Fox Sports for the past 27, covering primarily baseball and football.
Marty Brennaman told the Enquirer on Wednesday night, “As a dad, I hurt for him,. What he said is not a reflection of who Thom Brennaman is. I know that’s not him. But I also feel terrible for the people the comment offended.”