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Reds announcer Thom Brennaman uses homophobic slur on the air

He’s been suspended from Reds broadcasts.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This is a big story in baseball this morning, so let’s get right to it.

During Wednesday’s Reds/Royals doubleheader broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio, longtime Reds play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman, apparently not knowing his microphone was live, made a homophobic slur:

Brennaman issued the following apology, after which he left the broadcast:

It’s unintentionally humorous, in a clearly not-humorous situation, for him to interrupt his apology with a call of a home run by Nick Castellanos.

The Reds issued a statement later Wednesday evening:

Brennaman’s father, Marty Brennaman, was a Reds broadcaster from 1974 until he retired at the end of the 2019 season. Thom got his start in broadcasting as a weekend TV sportscaster at WLWT in Cincinnati, also doing some Reds games, before he was hired to be WGN radio’s Cubs play-by-play announcer for the 1990 season, replacing DeWayne Staats. He remained at WGN (also doing the middle innings on WGN-TV) through the 1995 season, when Pat Hughes replaced him. I’ll be honest, I never much cared for Thom as a Cubs announcer and wasn’t sad when he departed. One of the reasons he left is that he had been offered national work doing NFL games for Fox-TV and WGN didn’t want him leaving for several weekends in the fall.

So at that point, Thom did begin doing NFL work for Fox at that time (and later added baseball on Fox), later becoming the Diamondbacks PBP man in 1998 before he returned to his native Cincinnati in 2007. He’s continued national work on Fox and has generally been the No. 2 broadcaster for that network on both baseball and football.

This incident, though... this very well could end Brennaman’s broadcasting career. It’s something wildly inappropriate to think, much less say, and I find his “This is not who I am” in the apology to be a bit disingenuous. Generally when someone feels the need to say that, that’s exactly who they are. Also, “I apologize to anyone who was offended” isn’t really an apology.

Wick Terrell of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter wrote about this in an eloquent way and I thought I’d end this article with his words:

There should, and I hope will be much more to this story with Thom, as it would be the low-road to simply walk away from this entire episode with merely a quick apology and ride into whatever sunset falls next. This is an imperfect route, but an opportune time for him to both learn and grow from this, and do so with a chance to help shed just how awful a light that slur cast on all parties involved, both directly and indirectly, with what the Cincinnati Reds want to be. Who they want to be. What they want to stand for.

That he said it is not what the apology tonight reflected. That he got caught saying it was. What he does tomorrow, Friday, in September, and going forward is what will be the true apology for him.

I’m not going on the limb to suggest that one comment will forever define a person and their legacy, but this kind of comment certainly will for many if left alone, and a complete statement that never evolves. There will be, and already are, ample ways in which Thom can turn this into a teaching point, one that may help many other folks out there get a grip with just how offensive some things can be when uttered as if they’re statements of absolute fact.

Well said. We’ll see what happens going forward. The Reds statement says Brennaman has been “suspended,” and very well could wind up losing his job. As he said in his on-air statement, “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again.” That doesn’t mean, as Wick Terrell wrote, that this can’t be a teachable moment. Let’s hope so.