If you believe that cancel culture is a thing, and not just that we live in an era where people who didn’t have to previously face consequences for their actions now have to, then you could point to Thom Brennaman and Grant Napear as two of its biggest “victims” in sports media.
Brennaman was well on his way to spending the rest of his career as the TV broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds when, in August 2020, he dropped a homophobic slur on a hot mic during a break on the Fox Sports Ohio game broadcast. What followed was a now-infamous apology, in which Brennaman tried to sound remorseful and contrite but shifted gears to calling a Nick Castellanos home run before returning to his apology, all while not breaking somber stride.
Thom Brennaman’s apology. pic.twitter.com/wp6PD8DBnC
— Michael Ritter (@MikeSteveRitter) August 20, 2020
While Brennaman tried to apologize further, even claiming he’d never used the word before, the damage was done and he stepped away from the Reds later that day before eventually resigning a little over a month later.
In the year since leaving the Reds, Brennaman has kept himself busy calling local high school sports for Chatterbox Sports, a website focused on Cincinnati-area sports. He also started his own podcast. And he’s also shown up on various podcasts making claims like how “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!”
As for Napear, his time as a host on Sacramento sports radio station KHTK and as the long-time radio voice of the Kings came to an end in June 2020 when, after being asked for his throughs on the Black Lives Matter protests by former Kings’ player DeMarcus Cousins (who had had previous exchanges with Napear), he responded “ALL LIVES MATTER…EVERY SINGLE ONE.” That kind of response had been used by others and drawn criticism (including, in Napear’s specific case, from former Kings’ player Andre Miller) for diminishing protesters’ concerns over treatment of Black people. Napear was fired from KHTK a few days later, though he sued for wrongful termination.
Since then, Napear has also started a podcast in the year since, and he’s also strongly maintained that he did nothing wrong and is not sorry for saying “all lives matter” in that context.
Their worlds collided last week when Brennaman appeared as a guest on If You Don’t Like That with Grant Napear to discuss the similarities between their stations and find out how the former Reds broadcaster feels about his apology becoming a full-blown internet meme.
“Yes, when you’re going through in that moment in time and you’re live on television,” Brennaman said of the apology. “There is a game going on which you’re also trying to announce – because that’s why you’re there. And all of these things are going through your mind including, you know, there’s a real good chance that after you apologize, you know you might never work in that baseball world, the NFL world, the basketball world – whatever it might be. You might never have a chance to do something that you only know now to do for 35 years.
“And so, you know, I’m apologizing and it’s heartfelt, it’s sincere, I meant it. And then, you know, one of the Reds players, Nick Castellanos, hits a home run. I call the home run in the middle of the apology. Now that’s blown up into this whole thing that’s taken on an entire life of its own. I’ve never met Nick Castellanos’ wife. But, you know, she came out and has made the point, you know, ‘Enough. You know, enough. This guy lost his career during that home run.’ And she doesn’t owe me anything. …