Fox Sports says Thom Brennaman will not be part of its NFL broadcasting team this season after he used an anti-gay slur on air Wednesday night during a Cincinnati Reds broadcast.
“FOX Sports is extremely disappointed with Thom Brennaman’s remarks during Wednesday’s Cincinnati Reds telecast,” Fox said in a statement Thursday. “The language used was abhorrent, unacceptable, and not representative of the values of FOX Sports.”
Brennaman had been 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 called Major League Baseball games for the network from 1996 to 2014.
On Wednesday, Brennaman used the slur moments after the Fox Sports Ohio feed returned from a commercial break before the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader at Kansas City. He has been suspended from working Reds games, with the team apologizing for the “horrific, homophobic remark.”
Along with an apology Brennaman issued on air Wednesday, he wrote an apology for The Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday, saying that what he said is “something no one should ever say. Something that no one should ever think. Something that no one should ever feel. Something no one should ever hear.
“I used a word that is both offensive and insulting. In the past 24 hours, I have read about its history; I had no idea it was so rooted in hate and violence and am particularly ashamed that I, someone who makes his living by the use of words, could be so careless and insensitive,” Brennaman wrote. “It’s a word that should have no place in my vocabulary and I will certainly never utter it again.”
He added that he plans to take part “in diversity, equity and inclusion training.”
Billy Beane, MLB’s ambassador for inclusion, called Brennaman’s use of the slur “disheartening” in a statement Thursday and noted “MLB’s zero-tolerance policy for harassment, discrimination, or bias toward the LGBTQ+ community or person at any time.”
Beane continued: “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.”
The Reds took Brennaman off the broadcast in the fifth inning of the second game, handing his duties to alternate play-by-play announcer Jim Day.
“The Cincinnati Reds organization is devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark made this evening by broadcaster Thom Brennaman,” the team said in a statement. “He was pulled off the air, and effective immediately was suspended from doing Reds broadcasts. We will be addressing our broadcasting team in the coming days.
“In no way does this incident represent our players, coaches, organization, or our fans. We share our sincerest apologies to the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati, Kansas City, all across this country, and beyond. The Reds embrace a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination of any kind, and we are truly sorry to anyone who has been offended.”
Fox Sports Ohio said in a statement that it agreed with the suspension, adding that Brennaman’s remark was “hateful, offensive and in no way reflects the values” of the network.
Brennaman, who had been part of the Reds’ announcing team since 2007, opened the fifth inning with an apology spoken directly to the camera before handing off play-by-play duties.
“I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of,” he said. “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I am very, very sorry.”
After pausing to announce a home run by Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos, Brennaman added, “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again,” and he apologized to the Reds, Fox Sports and his coworkers.
Brennaman and the Reds’ announcers were working from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, even though the doubleheader against the Royals was in Kansas City, Missouri. Remote broadcasts have become the norm in MLB this year because of coronavirus protocols.
The son of Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman, Thom, 56, has called major league games for 33 years and has been with Fox Sports for the past 27, covering primarily baseball and football.
“I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am,” Brennaman said. “That is not who I am and never has been. I like to think maybe I could have some people who can back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness.”
In a statement Thursday, GLAAD called Brennaman’s apology “incredibly weak and not enough,” adding that it is “demanding full accountability” from the Reds, MLB and Fox Sports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.