Doug Adler Venus Williams

Being fired from ESPN may have taken more of a toll on Doug Adler than previously realized.

Adler was let go by the network earlier this year after making remarks during a match between Venus Williams and Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open that he claims were misinterpreted. Many viewers thought Adler used the term “gorilla effect” in regards to Williams, though the broadcaster insists he said “guerrilla effect,” as in a tactic used in warfare.

You can hear Adler’s exact remarks here:

Do you find this comment offensive? Commentator says #VenusWilliams put the “gorilla” effect on her opponent.

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ESPN promptly dismissed Adler from his Australian Open assignments, saying he “should have been more careful in his word selection.” Regardless of how Adler’s remarks were perceived, that seems like a fair point. However, Adler sued ESPN for his firing and the impression that it created about him in the industry, notably that he was now viewed as a racist.

Earlier this week, Adler suffered a heart attack, which could certainly be attributed to the stress he’s suffered since his ill-advised comments, the firing by ESPN, and the subsequent struggle to restore his reputation and find other work. From the hospital, Adler called Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis to explain what he’s been through and Travis talked about the conversation on his Outkick the Coverage¬†show.

“I think the vast, vast majority of you, and we polled, 92 percent of you felt like ESPN had treated Doug completely in the wrong there,” said Travis. “He is now in the hospital, has had a heart attack, his doctor said it was brought on, to a large degree, because of the stress of being unfairly labeled a racist and being fired by ESPN.”

This is certainly a troubling development, and it’s not a stretch to imagine that the indignity and stress that came with Adler’s dismissal, along with being viewed as a racist, caused his condition to deteriorate. Travis has been outspoken about political correctness before, so it’s no surprise to see this being held up as an example of social media attacking someone for an unfortunate remark, and creating enough outrage that ESPN felt it had to do something.

Ideally, Adler will explain what happened and what he’s been through in the days and weeks to come. Though finding an outlet to tell his story might be increasingly difficult, which may have been why he reached out to Travis. Once Adler recovers from his episode, however, his account might be more effective in being told with his own words, rather than an advocate. Regardless, this entire situation has become something even more disturbing now that it appears to have greatly affected Adler’s health and the hope is that he can recover fully and work further toward restoring his reputation and finding employment again.

[Fox Sports Radio]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.