You don't have to look too far on Twitter -- especially during what has been a career year for Nick Castellanos -- for references to former MLB and NFL broadcaster Thom Brennaman.
More than a year after Brennaman last called a Cincinnati Reds game, the circumstances of his exit from broadcasting are still pretty shocking. A hot mic captured Brennaman using an anti-gay slur during the Aug. 19, 2020 broadcast of the Reds and Kansas City Royals when he thought the telecast wasn't back from break yet. Even harder to wrap your head around is that FOX Sports Ohio allowed Brennaman to issue an on-air apology before taking him of that night's broadcast, which became a viral meme when he stopped midway through his apology to call a home run by the aforementioned Castellanos:
The 58-year-old recently did an interview with David J. Halberstam of Sports Broadcast Journal, who is advocating for Brennaman to get a second opportunity. In the interview, Brennaman speaks about how he's now a board member for a children's home that takes in many kids who have been thrown out of their homes by their parents for being gay. Brennaman says that in doing things like this, he's continuing the process of becoming a better person, rather than attempting to "check off any boxes."
Brennaman also says that he continues to be treated well in Cincinnati, where he had called games since the mid-2000s. (His father, Marty, is also universally loved in Cincinnati, where he was the play-by-play voice from 1974-2019).
"If I’m in the grocery or getting a cup of coffee at the local convenient shop, 99% of those I bump into, I’ll hear, ‘We wish you were back, we miss you!’ Let’s say it’s even 90%. Are execs going to make a decision to appease the 10%? Wouldn’t you listen to the massive 90%?"
Of course, those inclined to approach Brennaman, especially in Ohio, probably tend to be supporters of him. We don't know what percentage of the public believes he should get a second opportunity, whether it's calling games for the Reds or doing national NFL telecasts for FOX again. And of those currently opposed, how many could change their minds as times passes? We'll probably never know.
What is interesting is that Brennaman says that two broadcasting icons -- Bob Costas and Joe Buck -- have apparently helped him through the last 12-plus months. Brennaman even says that Costas recommended him to replace Len Kasper as the television play-by-play voice of the Chicago Cubs last offseason, a position that eventually went to Jon "Boog" Sciambi:
"Let me say that I’ve heard from hundreds of broadcasters. The business is often a close knit family. Bob Costas has been off the charts. I first met Bob when I was seven years old. He broadcast for the Spirits of St. Louis when my dad did the Virginia Squires games of the ABA. Although I’ve met Bob several times since, I can’t say I know him well. But Costas has been amazingly helpful.
"He’s told me that the crime doesn’t match the punishment.
"When Les Kasper left Cubs television last fall, Bob picked up the phone and recommended me for the job. He gave me the name and phone number of Mike Santini at Marquee Sports and I called him."
It's unclear if Brennaman will ever get a chance to regularly call games for a premier network again. The problem he faces is that not only did he get caught using an anti-gay slur, he got caught using it on air at his job, a position where he's paid to speak. Even if he can convince enough people that he's remorseful for the awful thing that he said, he may have an even harder time convincing television executives to allow him to lead a broadcast again.