Thom Brennaman Dropped From Fox's NFL Games After Reds Suspension For Gay Slur

Aug 19, 2020

Update 4 p.m. Thursday Aug. 20: Fox Sports has dropped Thom Brennaman from NFL games this fall because of his use of a gay slur during the Reds' doubleheader Wednesday.

Brennamman, 56, has been a NFL play-by-play announcer since 1994, when the network acquired the TV contract for the NFL's NFC division.

"Fox Sports is extremely disappointed with Thom Brennaman's remarks during Wednesday's Cincinnati Reds telecast. The language used was abhorrent, unacceptable, and not representative of the values of Fox Sports," says a Fox Sports statement issued at Wednesday afternoon.

"As it relates to Brennaman's Fox NFL role, we are moving forward with our NFL schedule which will not include him."

In addition to calling Sunday NFL games for 26 years on Fox, Brennaman also has done play-by-play for Fox's Major League Baseball games, National Bowl Championship Series game, Cotton Bowl and Big Ten football.

Brennaman has done baseball play-by-play for 33 years, starting with the Reds on WLWT-TV (1988-89), and returning to the Reds in 2007.

Kroger also removed all in-store audio messages featuring Brennaman Thursday morning, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. 

Update 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 20: Fox Sports Ohio issued this statement about Thom Brennaman: "The language that Thom Brennaman used this evening is hateful, offensive, and in no way reflects the values of FOX Sports Ohio. We agree with the Reds decision to suspend him until further notice."

Original post 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19: Is this the end of Thom Brennaman's broadcasting career for the Reds or Fox Sports?

"I don't know if I'll be putting on this headset again. I don't know if it's going to be for the Reds, I don't know if it's going to be for my bosses at Fox," Brennaman, 56, told Fox Sports Ohio viewers as he apologized for a gay slur he made earlier Wednesday during the first game of the Reds-Royals doubleheader in Kansas City.

Brennaman, a Fox NFL announcer since 1994 and part of the Reds TV team since 2007, was "pulled off the air" by the Reds during the fifth inning of the second game, and immediately "suspended from doing Reds telecasts" for his "horrific, homophobic remark," the Reds said in a statement issued at 11:50 p.m. Wednesday.

"The Cincinnati Reds organization is devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark made this evening by broadcaster Thom Brennaman," the Reds statement said. "We share our sincerest apologies to the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati, Kansas City, all across this country and beyond. The Reds embrace a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination of any kind, and we are truly sorry to anyone who has been offended."

Brennaman told viewers that he was "very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness." The son of retired Hall of Fame Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman joined the Reds broadcasting team in 2007 from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also does in-store Kroger commercials with his father.

Coming out of a commercial break during the first game of the Reds-Royals doubleheader, Brennaman was heard making a homophobic slur into an open mike, telling someone about "the (deleted) capitols of the world."

The remark was heard on the MLB.TV feed, but not by Reds' Fox Sports Ohio network viewers, according to Jeremy Rauch, WXIX-TV sports reporter.

Thom Brennaman and analyst Chris Welsh broadcasting from spring training on Fox Sports Ohio.
Credit Courtesy Cincinnati Reds

Brennaman apologized at the top of the fifth inning of the second game, then was replaced immediately by announcer Jim Day. Brennaman, analyst Chris Welsh and Day were broadcasting the game from Cincinnati, due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

The gay slur blew up on Twitter during the second game. Brennaman's apology came two hours and 10 minutes after the initial remark, Rauch said.

Here's his full statement as Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos came up to bat:

"I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I'm deeply ashamed of. If I have hurt anyone out there, I can't tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart I'm so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith –

"As there's a drive into deep left field by Castellanos. It will be home run. And so that will make it a four-nothing ball game.

"I don't know if I'll be putting on this headset again. I don't know if it's going to be for the Reds, I don't know if it's going to be for my bosses at Fox. I want to apologize to the people that sign my paycheck, for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody that I've offended here tonight. I can't begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am, and it never has been. And I'd like to think maybe that I'd have some people that can back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness. Jim Day will take you the rest of the way home."

Marty Brennaman said Monday at his How We Lookin' movie premiere how happy he was to have Thom come home to the Reds in 2007 so they could see each other at almost every game. Thom also attended the premiere at Amelia's Starlite Drive-In.

Thom, a 1982 Anderson High School graduate, started his career as WLWT-TV weekend sports anchor in 1986 after leaving Ohio University. He did Reds TV play-by-play in 1988-89 for WLWT-TV, the team's flagship station at the time. He went to Chicago's WGN-TV to call Cubs games 1990-95, and then to the Diamondbacks.

Brennaman has worked for Fox Sports since the network started broadcasting NFL games in 1994, and called many premiere events. He was Fox's lead play-by-play announcer for the Bowl Championship Series in 2006, and called BCS National Championship games 2007-09. He also has broadcast the Cotton Bowl (2000-2006), Big Ten football (2007-2010) and Major League Baseball games. Here is his Fox Sports bio.

Before Fox, he did college basketball play-by-play for University of Cincinnati on WXIX-TV; Great Midwest Conference games on Prime Network; and Atlantic Coast Conference games on the Fox Sports Network.