CINCINNATI, Ohio — Comments made by Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman on a hot mic and his subsequent suspension have left the city and Reds franchise wondering how to make things right.
What You Need To Know
- Thom Brennaman is suspended for using an anti-gay slur
- Some fans and LGBTQ leaders want him to resign or be fired
- Other community leaders believe action to support the LGBTQ community can make things right
The incident happened between innings in the first game of the Reds’ double-header against Kansas City Wednesday night. Brennaman used a homophobic slur while appearing to describe a city. Brennaman continued calling the game until the fifth inning of the second game. Then he issued an apology.
"I can't tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I'm so very, very sorry," he said on the broadcast. "I want to apologize for the people who sign my paycheck, for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with and for anybody I've offended here tonight."
Brennaman also said that could be the last time he puts on the headset, and that was unlike him.
Soon after, the Reds released a statement, saying the team was “devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark." Brennaman was then suspended.
On Thursday, Fox Sports released a statement determining Brennaman won't be an announcer for any NFL games this fall.
For Reds fans like Zach Kramer, it was a jarring way to return to the broadcast.
“I understand he didn’t know his mic was on, but you can’t say that. You’ve got to be professional,” he said.
Many fans weren't swayed by Brennaman's apology.
"This apology is just not sincere to me," Kramer said. “Apologizing to Fox and mentioning the people that paid his checks, mentioning them first in his apology and lastly the people that he offended and not even the people that he said the slur about.”
Other LGBTQ groups also commented on what seemed to be missing from Brennaman's apology.
Cincinnati Pride posted a statement on social media explaining why the slur used is so offensive.
“Many gay men were called that word constantly while growing up," the statement reads in part. "Even as adults, many still hear it screamed at them…for some it is like dying a death by a thousand cuts.”
The statement also said Cincinnati Pride accepts Brennaman's apology and acknowledges that the group does not represent everyone who may have been offended.
The group calls on the Reds and Thom to "take this incident as a learning opportunity, to ensure the Reds are an inclusive organization that builds equity through their many loyal LGBTQ+ fans and through their partnership with Cincinnati Pride."
Councilman Chris Seelbach, the city's first openly gay council member, was less forgiving. He was one of the first to call for Brennaman to step down Wednesday night.
"What message does that send to the young people or other people who are not out or who don’t have acceptance and see this person that we revere saying such an offensive remark,” he said.
Like Cincinnati Pride, Seelbach recognized the Reds' work towards inclusion, as well, and said he hopes the franchise will use this incident as a wakeup call to do more to promote LGBTQ acceptance in Cincinnati.
“The Reds community has always been great allies to the LGBT-plus community and I know that his comment does not reflect their values,” Seelbach said.
As for Brennaman, fans like Kramer said he can make up for his words, but doing so means proving what he has promised—that these comments do not represent who he is.
"He can take action in LGBTQ rights and movements and say everything and he can educate himself, but at this moment he definitely, I think, it’s definitely going to be a few years or some time,” Kramer said.
Until then, fans do not expect to hear him on the call.
Brennaman is the son of famed Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman, who will be honored this weekend as part of the Reds Hall of Fame.
Marty told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday night that the words his son said do not reflect him, and he feels terribly for the people the comment offended.