A Canonical List Of Everything ESPN Has Ever Apologized For
The Alabama Crimson Tide won the 2013 BCS National Championship Game on Monday night.
But it was the beau of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron that stole the show – and with that, Brent Musburger’s heart.
And for this, ESPN saw fit to issue an apology for their lead college football announcer’s singing the praises not only of McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, but his mother, Dee Dee Bonner.
Many are saying it’s uncalled for – the apology, that is.
Whether or not it’s warranted, it’s the latest in a very long string of “sorry’s” at the Worldwide Leader. So with that, I present a rolling list of apologies issued by either ESPN or ESPN employees, going back as far as the Internet can go. (I’m sure I missed a few, so if I omitted any, post a comment below and I’ll add it on.)
We’ll start off with an on-air comment that happened almost eight years ago – something that was the pure antithesis of Brent Musburger sweating Katherine Webb during the national championship game – involving Rick Majerus, who passed away just last month.
January 25, 2005: At one point during a college basketball broadcast, in which Kentucky routed Tennessee, color analyst Majerus said that he requested the presence of Kentucky alumnus (and possible Senator of Kentucky) Ashley Judd at the game. Why? “So I won’t have to watch adult videos back at the hotel.” The network apologized for the comment a few days later.
November 14, 2005: ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd is incensed at how much press the death of wrestler Eddie Guerrero got. “Who cares that he died? It’s not newsworthy.” (Guerrero was found dead in a hotel room prior to a match; he was 38 years old.)
December 11, 2007: Using what they called “very poor judgment” in constructing a poll asking website visitors which of three possibilities they would rather see in sports in the upcoming weekend – with one of the options being, “Kevin Garnett blow out his knee.”
March 9, 2008: Dan Shulman (pre-”Sunday Night Baseball”) issuing a mea culpa for cutting to “Speedo Guy” during a Duke/North Carolina game.
June 17, 2008: Jemele Hill penned a column in which she likened rooting for the Boston Celtics, who beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 that year in the NBA Finals, to “saying Hitler was a victim.”
September 15, 2008: In one of his three seasons in the booth for “Monday Night Football” – which moved to ESPN from ABC in 2006 – Tony Kornheiser’s recalling of high school Spanish was very fuzzy as, upon hearing Spanish-language audio of a Cowboys touchdown, he interpreted that as “either ‘nobody is going to touch him’, or ‘could you pick up my dry cleaning in the morning?’ (Is it a mere coincidence that this would be his final season in the “MNF” booth?) The next day, he apologized, admitting that while it was “not my first mistake,” it “undoubtedly won’t be my last.”
October 18, 2008: Apparently, Lou Holtz was a big fan of Jemele Hill’s works.
February 2, 2009: A promo featuring NBA play-by-player Mike Breen and Shaquille O’Neal (who joined TNT in 2011), in which Shaq disparaged “fist kissing” to the point that gay groups took offense to it; the promo was later dropped.
August 20, 2009: We say hello to Ms. Hill once again. This time, the offensive thing wasn’t written; it was said on “First Take”: she wanted Green Bay Packers fans to give Brett Favre, by this time donning the uniform of the division rival Minnesota Vikings, “the Duracell treatment when he comes to Lambeau Field.”
February 19, 2010: Kornheiser (way to keep a promise on screwing up again, Mr. Tony) had made up with Hannah Storm for choice words about her attire, comments for which he was suspended – comments he made on his radio show on the Washington, D.C. ESPN radio affiliate.
January 4, 2011: The aforementioned Storm and NFL insider Adam Schefter high-fiving and laughing while reporting on “Black Monday” that the Cleveland Browns have fired head coach Eric Mangini.
That same day, the network cut loose radio play-by-play announcer Ron Franklin, who had previously apologized to reporter Jeannine Edwards for referring to her as “sweet baby” during a staff meeting.
April 20, 2011: Former college basketball coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst Bob Knight singled out Kentucky’s program while making an argument that players that declare eligibility for the NBA draft after only a freshman season is “not healthy for college basketball.”
October 4, 2011: Hank Williams Jr. picking a Monday morning to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler. After over twenty years of opening a reworked version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” for “Monday Night Football” on ESPN (and ABC before it), Hank Jr. would croon his tune no more.
November 19, 2011: On “College GameDay,” Lee Corso… ah, fuck it.
December 6, 2011: Trying to pull a fast one on Jaguars fans during a “Monday Night Football” broadcast, displaying outdated footage of the city of Jacksonville, and even Charlotte (note: the Panthers did not even play on “MNF” in 2011).
February 18, 2012: The inadvertent use of the idiom “Chink In The Armor” as a headline to a story about then-Knick Jeremy Lin, losing his first game as a starter for New York. (The person responsible for use of the term, Anthony Federico, was later fired.)
May 25, 2012: Ranking Philadelphia 76ers forward/center Lavoy Allen number 500 in a list of the best players in the NBA – no, it’s true. (And is it really something to apologize for if Allen is taking the ball and running with it? Check out his Twitter handle.)
May 30, 2012: Perhaps one that ranks right up there with the Musburger/Webb kerfuffel (or the Lavoy Allen thing above): “During its SportsCenter broadcast… Stan Verrett, apologized on behalf of his peers in the national media for failing to recognize until recently just how good the Spurs are and how special their 20-game winning streak is.”
July 25, 2012: Reporting a story involving then-Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard on “SportsCenter” – one that was lifted from another website and read virtually verbatim.
November 12, 2012: A chyron on the rundown bar of “Monday Night Countdown” teasing a segment revolving around Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, “Dink And Dunk,” had actually read “Drink And Drunk.” (Big Ben has been known for exploits at bars; he had also flirted with legal trouble, but has never been arrested.)
November 24, 2012: Perhaps just as trivial as the Musburger/Webb thing, depending on what part of the country you’re from or in: Canadian-born Jesse Palmer making the “hook ‘em horns” hand signal – with the horns pointed downward.
December 19, 2012: Nearly a week after he wondered on “First Take” if Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was “a cornball brother,” Rob Parker issued an apology. (In case you missed it, the network is not renewing his contract.)
Just this Monday, hours before Musburger’s Webb gem: A soccer analyst depicting a player who worked his hand into a scoring drive as “a cheat.”
Honorable mention: We go all the way back to April 8, 1994, when the network apologized for then-ESPN2 host Jim Rome taunting then-New Orleans Saints quarterback Jim Everett to the point that Everett knocked Rome to the floor.
As for Everett? “I don’t regret what I did.”
And for all those who wish to relive that magic moment, here’s what Chris, er, Jim Everett did to Jim Rome, again.
(Even the people in the control room were taunting Everett through chyrons!)