Thom Brennaman has been out of the play-by-play booth for the Cincinnati Reds for over three weeks now. Back on August 19, he could be heard using a gay slur over the airwaves of FOX Sports Ohio during a double header between the Reds and Kansas City Royals. He was suspended indefinitely. FOX also announced that it would not be using Brennaman to call NFL games this fall.
Brennaman issued an awkward on air apology. He also wrote a detailed apology for The Athletic. Mark Fischer has a story this week in The New York Post detailing the broadcaster’s efforts to meet with gay colleagues and LGBTQ activists in the Cincinnati area.
Evan Millward of WPCO TV in Cincinnati says he had his guard up when Brennaman asked to meet with him. He was concerned about being a pawn in an insincere apology tour that was just about PR.
“It was pretty clear to me early on that he was not using me,” Millward told Fischer.
Millward and Cincinnati LGBTQ activist Ryan Messer are working with Brennaman and having routine conversations to help the broadcaster understand why his words were so hurtful. They have run into an interesting quandary though.
Thom Brennaman claims that what was captured by TV microphones was the first time he had ever used the gay slur he did. Messer is pretty adamant that he doesn’t believe that is true.
“If he used it then, he used it before,” Messer said. He won’t dismiss the opportunity to educate Brennaman, even if it means Brennaman isn’t being totally honest. “If we don’t open the dialogue to help explain (the meaning behind the word), how do we learn and grow from it? And that’s where my whole perspective comes, and I’m willing to make sure he understands that, which is why he is coming to my house Saturday to meet my family, my husband and four kids.”
Brennaman says that the extent of his outreach to the LGBTQ community doesn’t stop at Millward and Messer. He says that he has spoken to groups across the country and that most have been forgiving and happy to see him making an effort to educate himself.