Former Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman addresses on-air slur: ‘I’m embarrassed’

“Obviously, I wish it wouldn’t have happened. I’m ashamed that it did happen,” Brennaman said.

SHARE Former Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman addresses on-air slur: ‘I’m embarrassed’
“My goal is to help other people not make the same mistake that I did,” former Reds and NFL broadcaster Thom Brennaman said.

“My goal is to help other people not make the same mistake that I did,” former Reds and NFL broadcaster Thom Brennaman said.

John Minchillo/AP

Former Cincinnati Reds television broadcasterThom Brennaman spokeMonday with Cincinnati radio station WLW’s Scott Sloan about what Brennaman has done and how he’s responded since using an on-air, homophobic slur during a Fox Sports Ohio broadcast in August.

Brennaman resigned from his play-by-play job with the Reds and FSO in September — about one month after he was suspended for using a homophobic slur during a Fox Sports Ohio Reds-Royals broadcast. Earlier, Fox had removed him from its broadcasting teams for the current NFL season.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for. I know that for a lot of people 2020 — including me — has not been the best of years. But when you take three of four steps back and look at all the blessings and gifts you’ve been given in your life, there’s still a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to,” Brennaman told Sloan in the 20+ minute interview. “This particular weekend was pretty tough because the NFL crew that I’ve been working on for many, many years ... I went down to see them at the hotel — they did the Bengals-Giants game yesterday — and I went down to see them on Saturday. And you know, it’s one thing to talk to them, which I have regularly, and it’s an entirely different thing to actually see them and be in that work environment ... and I think it was the first time since all of this happened where it really hit me between the eyes of the things that I’m missing but more importantly the people that I’m missing in my job — my old job.”

Brennaman was asked by Sloan how many times he has replayed the incident in his head:

“Not one time. Obviously, I wish it wouldn’t have happened. I’m ashamed that it did happen. I’m embarrassed. I embarrassed a lot of people. I embarrassed my family. I hurt my wife. I hurt my kids. Obviously, I hurt my career. But that’s further down the totem pole than hurting your family and embarrassing them. And I have two kids in high school here that have to deal with all that. And when they go to Google their dad — if they ever do — but if they do, I’m a homophobe. And I’m not a homophobe. And I know there a lot of people that’ll say, ‘Well you used that word, so that makes you a homophobe.’ And for those people, I get it, I understand. But since then, I’ve tried to be around and have been around and to listen and to learn and to grow from other people and realize the magnitude of the word that I used. And so you really have two choices: You can crawl into a hole and just hope everything goes away and disappears — that’s one route. And the other route is to try to get better. And if there is such a thing as trying to right a wrong — and I don’t know if there is or not, that’s for others to decide, it’s not for me to decide — that’s what I’m trying to do. ... The support and the grace and the willingness to forgive (from members of the LGBTQ community) has just been amazing.”

Brennaman also discussed his recent visit with former University of Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Bob Huggins’ WVU men’s basketball team:

“I’m just so grateful to Coach Huggins for allowing me to come do it, and it just speaks volumes to the kind of guy that he is. And when I thanked him profusely after I left Morgantown two weeks ago, his simple message was, ‘That’s what friends are for.’ And my message is to young people — and for that matter to corporations, to the people who are in the working world. Because I’m a 57-year-old white straight guy. Doesn’t make me better or worse than anybody else. But whether it’s sexual orientation slurs, gender identity slurs, racial slurs — and especially for young people, social media posts — those things can follow you and haunt you for the rest of your life. ... My goal is to help other people not make the same mistake that I did. I also can’t apologize for trying to get a job. I have a wife and two children at home. I have to support them financially. And some might say, ‘Well this guy has made a ton of money his whole life.’ Look: The bottom line is I have to prove to my kids and my wife that their dad or their husband can get off the deck and try to get back after making a terrible mistake instead of running and hiding.

“I have never understood people being critical about someone saying they’re sorry. I mean there has to be something to be said for just saying you’re sorry and you were wrong. OK, now what do you do next? I mean, do you keep on doing and saying what you were saying? ... I don’t know about (my) legacy. I don’t know about all that. But what I do know is is there are people who don’t even know me — because I would challenge anyone who thinks that I’m a homophobe. I wish they could get around my friends, and I have an incredible group of friends here in town and guys I went to college with that have just been — I mean you really find out who your friends are. And you find out who your friends aren’t. And that’s a good thing to find out sometimes too. But to be known in a lot of circles as a homophobe — I have never been a homophobe, not for one minute of my life. Have I used that word before? Yes, I’ve used that word before. Will I ever use it again? You can take it to the bank there’s no chance of that.”

Brennaman wrote a letter that was published in The Cincinnati Enquirer shortly after his on-air apology.


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