It was a rough week for sports broadcasters with one losing a job over a comment not meant to be heard and the other taking a break after criticism for one he just meant to be funny.
Longtime Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman got caught uttering a homophobic slur when he thought his microphone was off. He was suspended by the Reds but a seemingly heartfelt apology was not enough from keeping him getting fired from his job on Fox NFL broadcasts.
Brennaman is a solid pro but his mistake but his was a big one and considering the times we are in one that he may not recover from although many hope the Reds suspension is not a permanent banishment from the broadcast booth.
Meanwhile Mike Milbury is stepping aside from his job as a hockey commentator for NBC for the rest of this season after considerable criticism over something he said on a telecast last week. After his broadcast partner said the bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton have made for ideal settings for those who just want to play hockey and spend time with their teammates, Milbury responded with there are “not even any women to disrupt your concentration.”
The NHL called the comments “insensitive and insulting” and while NBC Sports did talk with the 68-year old it was his decision to move aside for the rest of the season saying “it was not my intention to disrespect anyone. I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far. It was a regrettable mistake that I take seriously.”
While Milbury often speaks without thinking I am going to defend him on two fronts:
- Sometimes it’s not the comment but who says it. If Charles Barkley would have said the same thing on an NBA broadcast it would have been laughed at as simply “Charles being Charles” and nobody would have made an issue out of it.
- Milbury’s comment was likely accurate. Many pro athletes will tell you they like being on the road because it allows them to simply concentrate on the game without worrying about family issues. Milbury, who played 12 seasons in the NHL, would know that from his time as a pro player.
Bottom line. Always act like the mike is ON and remember it’s 2020 and what you thought was funny 30 years ago could cost you today.