Remembering Norm MacDonald's infamous 1998 ESPY monologue

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By , Audacy

Comedian Norm MacDonald passed away on Tuesday at the age of 61 after a battle with cancer.

The former “SNL” star was famous for such bits like Weekend Update and portraying Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeopardy.

But MacDonald is also a somewhat infamous figure within the realm of sports.

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ESPN asked the comedian to host the ESPY Awards in 1998 — the sixth year the network aired the award show for professional athletes.

But ESPN did not realize just how risqué its choice of MacDonald would be.

MacDonald delivered a nine-minute opening monologue that was arguably, perhaps undoubtedly, the edgiest and most politically incorrect thing ESPN has ever aired.

Nothing was off-limits for the comedian, who cracked jokes about Anthony Mason’s rape charges, mocked Hideki Irabu and alas, ended with an unforgettable punchline about OJ Simpson that left a clearly uncomfortable Ken Griffey Jr. shaking his head in disbelief and Barry Bonds burying his head in his hands.

Warning: some jokes may be insensitive

There were actually a couple of shots of Griffey unsure of how to react to some of MacDonald’s jokes. Bill Bradley rolled his eyes after a line about Charles Barkley while several other athletes appeared to be smiling uncomfortably through it all.

Following news of his passing, some on Twitter recalled his time as ESPY host.

Needless to say, MacDonald would not host the ESPYs again. Regardless of how you feel about his hosting duties — whether you thought it was hilarious or wildly inappropriate and offensive — one thing is for sure: it was definitely an ESPYs to remember, which is hard to say about most of them.

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