Sports Announcers And Analysts Who've Gotten In Trouble For On-Air Comments

The following references suicide and domestic abuse.

Just imagine getting paid to speak about the sport you love and having a major platform to do so. Such is the job of a sports announcer or analyst. While it may sound like a breezy gig for any diehard sports fan, there's quite a bit that goes into it. "It's a lot of work, and it requires a lot of patience," ESPN's Kevin Negandhi once told Bleacher Report. "You must have an open mind and know you can do it. Do not be arrogant, because that will get you nowhere." Another key skill? Knowing what to say and what not to say.

Remember what Peter Parker's uncle said in 2002's "Spider-Man?" You know, about those with power having a huge responsibility? His words could easily be applied to the individuals sitting behind the desk on your favorite sports talk TV shows and members of commentator panels. Alas, some sports announcers have abused that power and said hurtful things while the cameras were rolling and the microphones still on. And sometimes, those hurtful things have gotten them into trouble with the court of public opinion and their bosses. 

Jalen Rose apologized in the blink of an eye

Scandal broke out in the NBA when coach Ime Udoka was suspended by the Boston Celtics in 2022 for violating some team policies. Udoka — who's married to actor Nia Long — reportedly had an inappropriate relationship with a Celtics staff member, whose name hasn't been made public as of this writing. Initially, ESPN analyst Jalen Rose didn't get why the woman's identity had not been revealed and said as much on the show "NBA Countdown."

"We know his name," said Rose about Udoka. "Maybe I'm missing something as it relates to the law but why we don't know her name? It's not like she's a minor. I feel like we should know her name publicly as well."

But before the criticism on social media could really reach a fever pitch, Rose apologized. About an hour after he made that declaration on the air, he addressed his misguided remarks. "I would like to apologize for a comment I made earlier on 'NBA Countdown,'" he began. "I questioned why a woman's name — who had an alleged affair with Celtics head coach Ime Udoka — was not made public. After an internal investigation, and it was discovered that she was a subordinate to the head coach, I now understand fully why her name should not be released to the public." Well, talk about a quick turnaround. 

Glenn Consor stepped in it

What was Washington Wizards analyst Glenn Consor thinking while calling a game in January 2022? That had to be a question a lot of people were asking themselves after hearing what seemed to be a highly inappropriate comment he made about Houston Rockets point guard Bryan Kevin Porter Jr.'s late father. "You've got to give credit," said Consor after Porter Jr. made a three-pointer just before the game clock expired. "Kevin Porter Jr., like his dad, pulled that trigger right at the right time."

Those not familiar with Porter Jr.'s father probably didn't catch anything wrong with the comment. But if those people did a quick Google search, they'd see that Bryan Kevin Porter Sr. was sentenced to more than four years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter. He was connected to a 1993 shooting that killed a 14-year-old girl. Porter Sr. was also shot and killed in 2004.

Many blasted Consor for the comment, including LeBron James. "How insensitive can you be to say something like this. Beat it man! I pray for you but there's no place in our beautiful game for you!" James tweeted. But in his apology tweet, Consor explained that he mistakenly took Porter Jr. for another Kevin Porter, who played in the NBA from 1972-1983. Plus, the hoop analyst said he reached out to Porter Jr. with the hope of smoothing things over. 

Terry Bradshaw made an insensitive joke on live TV

The insensitive reference to suicide Terry Bradshaw made on a 2022 episode of "Fox NFL Sunday" sure seemed to throw off his cohosts and viewers alike. The quarterback-turned-analyst was talking about his deep desire for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to throw the ball less and for the teams' running backs to be involved in more plays. "Their mentality is throw, throw, throw, throw," Bradshaw began. "I think if this kid ran five or six runs in a row, I think he'd commit suicide or something."

Howie Long and Curt Menefee jumped in to call him out on the inappropriate remark. Michael Strahan gave the camera what can only be described as a stunned look. Soon after, the social media backlash hit Bradshaw like one of the defensive ends he faced in his playing days. A number of Twitter users pointed out that suicide is no laughing matter and hoped the TV veteran would address his error, but as of the writing of this article, Bradshaw hasn't apologized for the comment.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Troy Aikman apologized for saying something 'dumb'

Retired quarterback Troy Aikman seems to think the NFL isn't as rough-and-tough as it used to be, and referees are wrongfully penalizing players for hits. This perspective landed him in hot water in October 2022. It was during a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders. Aikman didn't like that the Chiefs' Chris Jones was called for roughing the passer after recovering the ball from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Especially because it didn't look like Jones did anything dirty.

"My hope is the competition committee looks at this in the next set of meetings and, you know, we take the dresses off," said Aikman about the call. Soon after, a number of people took to social media to blast him for that remark. Following the swift reaction, Aikman addressed the criticism on 96.7 The Ticket and expressed regret (via TMZ). "My comments were dumb, just shouldn't have made them. Just dumb remarks on my part," he stated.

Derek Ruscin got way too personal

Usually, when sportscasters criticize a player, it's done with some tactfulness. One can say there's also an unspoken rule of no name-calling or taking personal shots. But ESPN Arkansas radio host Derek Ruscin did the opposite in May 2022 when he went on a major rant against University of Arkansas catcher Michael Turner. It was clear that Ruscin didn't like Turner's answer when asked how he felt about Arkansas' fans.

"We're just trying to keep the circle tight and cut out a lot of the outside noise," said Turner in his interview, which Ruscin played on his "Ruscin & Zach" podcast (via the New York Post). It's not always that easy to play here ... some are good fans, some are not good fans." Ruscin ripped Turner after the clip was over, while also bringing up that he transferred from Kent State to play for the Razorbacks.

"First of all, you're not a Razorback, you're a rental player and you've sucked," said Ruscin.  "Secondly, as a rental player, you do not get to come in here and criticize this fan base, you stupid a** ... You're a disgrace ... What a loser." ESPN Arkansas' market manager Tommy Craft eventually released a statement, saying Ruscin would be taking some time away from his role on ESPN Arkansas stations and that he went too far. Later, Ruscin apologized to Turner on "Ruscin & Zach."

Brent Musburger said a bit too much about Katherine Webb

By 2012, Katherine Webb was fairly well-known since she won the Miss Alabama USA crown that year. But her level of fame would shoot up dramatically in 2013 when the University of Alabama took on Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game. At the time, Webb was the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron before they tied the knot in 2014. At one point in the game, a camera person got a shot of Webb while she was sitting next to McCarron's parents. That's when veteran sportscaster Brent Musburger had a good deal to say about her looks.

"Wow, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," said Musburger in part. "What a beautiful woman ... So if you're a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pop." 

Musburger immediately began trending on Twitter and some people blasted him. "It's extraordinarily inappropriate to focus on an individual's looks," Michigan State professor Sue Carter told The New York Times. "In this instance, the appearance of the quarterback's girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game." ESPN apologized for Musburger's words but Musburger told TMZ he didn't think he crossed any lines. Following the incident, Webb appeared on "Today" and insisted she was flattered by the comments and that everyone needs to leave the sportscaster alone. 

Thom Brennaman gave a weird apology

Thom Brennaman, a play-by-play announcer who was working for Fox Sports in Ohio, not only got himself in trouble for something he said on air, he seemed to baffle many with his apology. But let's first circle back. 

It was August 2020. The Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals were having a doubleheader, and that's when Brennaman used homophobic language while he thought his microphone was off. He later apologized for the slur but paused briefly to call a play, a decision that seemed more than strange.

"I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of," Brennaman began. "If I have hurt anyone out there, I can't tell you how much I say, from the bottom of my heart, I am so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith — as here's a drive into deep left field by Castellanos, it will be a home run, and so that'll make it a 4–nothing ballgame — I don't know if I'm going to be putting on this headset again. I don't know if it's going to be for the Reds." The veteran announcer was first suspended for on-the-air comment, then he resigned from Fox Sports. Brennaman penned an Op-Ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer as well and claimed that he didn't know the full history of the slur he used.

Tim Ryan probably wishes he had a do-over

While trying to break down the crafty on-field moves of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in 2019, San Francisco 49ers radio analyst Tim Ryan was suspended. Now, why would a sports analyst get in trouble for describing someone's play? Well, it had to do with how Ryan spoke about Jackson, who's Black. "He's really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson," said Ryan on his "Murph and Mac" radio show the next morning (via ABC News). "But when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing."

Ryan was talking about Jackson's fake handoffs at the time, saying the quarterback's complexion is partly why he's able to fool the defense. The radio host ended up being suspended for one game afterward and gave a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I regret my choice of words in trying to describe the conditions of the game," Ryan explained. "Lamar Jackson is an MVP-caliber player and I respect him greatly."

The San Francisco 49ers also released a statement, explaining they were disappointed by Ryan's words while saying that he showed remorse in their conversations. The Bay Area organization contacted the Ravens as well and let them know they were going to deal with Ryan accordingly.

Cris Collinsworth's compliment attempt didn't land well

While trying to pay a compliment to football fans in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, NBC sportscaster Cris Collinsworth made a comment that caught the ire of social media users. The controversial remark came about during a 2020 showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. At one point, Collinsworth said he was highly impressed with how football savvy the women in Pittsburgh are, something that seemed to surprise him.

"Everybody's a fan," said the former NFL wide receiver about those in Pittsburgh. "In particular, the ladies that I met. They have really specific questions about the game, and I'm like, 'Wow.' You're just blown away by how strong the fans are here in this town." 

One could probably picture the faces of some female football fans after the comment, as well as female sports reporters. Not before long, the negative feedback rolled in. He later apologized on Twitter for his wording, writing that he met two women who impressed him and he wanted to tell their story on air. "What I intended as a compliment to the fans of Pittsburgh became an insult," tweeted Collinsworth. "I'm sick about insulting any fan, but especially female fans and journalists ... I was wrong and I deeply apologize."

Stephen A. Smith caused a huge stir with his opinion

Many have said the 2014 video footage of former NFL player Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée and now-wife Janay Palmer unconscious couldn't be anymore disturbing. The video was all over the news after being leaked by TMZ, and ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is one of the many sports journalists who weighed in on the subject. His initial response landed him in the hottest of waters. On an episode of his show "First Take," Smith seemed to put the blame on the victim. "Let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong actions," he said. "So let's try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn't happen," he went on to add.

People like former ESPN host Michelle Beadle then ripped Smith for his words on Twitter. "Violence isn't the victim's issue. It's the abuser's. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away," she wrote. Smith was suspended by ESPN for one week and later apologized for his comments. As for Rice, he was charged with third-degree aggravated assault for punching Palmer. But the charges were later dismissed after he completed a list of demands from the court. Rice also lost his football career over the violent incident.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.