Bloopers That Got These Sports Announcers Fired

The words "sports bloopers," usually conjure a couple of images in mind: first, something that went amiss on the field (or court) of play, and second, something that was funny. Indeed, if the words "sports bloopers" are Googled, the top hits are videos packed with clips of athletes missing easy shots, dropping balls, or comically falling over. There is another category of sports blooper, however, that takes place off the actual field and is not funny — at least not laugh-out-loud funny. These include gaffes made by sports announcers that were so egregious they cost the person their very job.

Yes, some of these moments may draw a laugh, but they probably didn't seem that funny to the person caught on a hot mic, or who just had a slip of the tongue. On the other hand, a few of these folks calmly and collectedly put their proverbial foot into their own mouths and then doubled down on the blooper sandwich — we're looking at you, the late Rush Limbaugh and Jeremy Roenick, on that front. Were some of these firings a bit harsh? Maybe, but the fact is that sports announcers and commentators are the direct points of contact between the public and the game, so when they slip up badly enough, their heads tend to roll, thus protecting the valuable entities that are the teams. Also, some things just can't be blurted out publicly, period, especially when they get recorded.

That little monkey gets loose, doesn't he! - Howard Cosell

The brash, arrogant, outspoken, and oft cigar-chomping sports announcer Howard Cosell was a dominant force in the world of sports for much of the latter half of the 20th century. Indeed, American Football Database reports that a 1993 print edition of TV Guide proclaimed Cosell to be the "All-Time Best Sportscaster." But Cosell's long career, which continued until shortly before his death in 1995, at the age of 77, per Find a Grave, was not without controversy. Indeed, if he were alive and behind the microphone today, some of his utterances would be cause for sheer outrage.

In 1973, according to American Football Database, Cosell famously exclaimed: "Look at that little monkey run!" while watching a nearly 100-yard kickoff return by the Washington Redskins — now called the Washington Commanders — player Herb Mul-Key, who is Black. The comment, which would have been cause for summary termination today, drew no blowback on Cosell. But a little more than a decade later, Cosell used the term "little monkey" to describe another Black football player, saying, per The Washington Post: "That little monkey gets loose, doesn't he?" of Alvin Garrett, also a then-Redskins player. 

Garrett later said he had not taken the comment as a slight, but this time Cosell's words caused an uproar, and his reputation took a major hit. He would not return to Monday Night Football the following year, clearly having been pushed out, despite his public claims to have lost interest in football.

Tremendous amount of sex - Susannah Collins

Susannah Collins had a Freudian slip caught on camera that should have been cause for great embarrassment — the kind of embarrassment that causes sleepless nights for years after, even — but should not have cost the young sports commentator her job with CSN Chicago. Still, per the Chicago Tribune, that's what happened — but there was more to the story. 

While speaking about the ongoing Chicago Blackhawks 2013 NHL season, Collins accidentally said the team had enjoyed "a tremendous amount of sex" while meaning to say "a tremendous amount of success." She managed to stammer out the correct word a moment later, but the damage had already been done — and long before, as it turned out. Collins was ultimately only fired by Comcast SportsNet Chicago because of a series of videos she had created earlier. The salacious comment created a glut of attention around Collins, and the older videos came to light in the churn of things. It was these videos that sank her career, rather than her unfortunate misspoken comment about the Blackhawks' "success."

As reported by the Chicago Tribune mere days after the verbal flub, Phil Bedella, the vice president and general manager of CSN Chicago, issued a statement saying in part: "Due to circumstances unrelated to her on-air remarks Tuesday night, Susannah Collins and Comcast SportsNet Chicago have parted ways." The videos in which Collins co-starred and that were produced by MiddlebrowMedia, were, by turns, anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic, and extremely low-brow.

Extremely overweight and awful - Steve Shaw and Jim Carter

It might seem a sure thing that a pair of veteran reporters, after decades of experience calling sporting events, would have learned phrases or quips that always got a great response, as well as what not to say — especially near microphones that were likely to be turned on. But apparently, Maine sports commentators Steve Shaw and Jim Carter had not quite completed their path to sensitive reporting enlightenment, despite their long careers in sports, as reported by the Bangor Daily News. What made their comments all the more egregious was the fact that Shaw and Carter were calling a girls' high school basketball game at the time: The players they were disparaging were just kids.

The incident occurred while the two men were watching a video feed from a high school game, during a wait to call a different match-up. They were heard making offensive comments about some of the youth players' appearance, mercilessly body-shaming them, and even going so far as to throw barbs about finding uniforms for them, per WGME.

Both men were quickly fired from their announcing jobs at radio station WHOU, the owner of which, Fred Grant, released a statement that read in part: "Our mission has been to highlight the best of our communities, our schools, the programs we love, and most importantly our students. Tonight, two broadcasters made comments that were not only inappropriate, they were also blatantly wrong. Those broadcasters were terminated."

Rush Limbaugh resigns from ESPN after racist remarks

During his many years on the airwaves, on TV, and later across the internet's endless plains, commentator and political firebrand Rush Limbaugh said a lot of outrageous things that drew a lot of ire from a lot of people. He was an outspoken foil to liberals and the darling of millions of conservatives in the U.S., and beyond. For example, Limbaugh claimed tobacco was barely harmful and secondhand smoke harmless, as reported by The Mercury News. According to Forbes, he openly wished failure on President Obama, and also lied about a multi-year opioid addiction, per The New York Times. And he revealed himself as a racist in comments he made during his stint as an ESPN sports commentator, as ESPN themselves reported.

During a pregame show back in 2003, Limbaugh said of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is Black: "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team." 

Limbaugh resigned shortly after his remarks stirred up a controversy, including with his fellow ESPN hosts, per The Washington Post. But it was clear the resignation was merely the network allowing him to save face, instead of being outright fired. Nonetheless, his position was untenable, with one of his co-hosts, Tom Jackson, reportedly refusing to work with Limbaugh — and upon the latter's departure, his former ESPN partners also issued apologies on air for the incident.

WTF was that!? - Danyelle Sargent

Danyelle Sargent-Musselman has had quite a varied career, as described by MSNBC. She is also known as the wife of Eric Musselman, head coach of the University of Arkansas men's basketball team and former NBA coach of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors, 

However, Sargent's time as a sports commentator is, regrettably, best remembered for an honest but painful mistake she made in 2008, when she said to newly hired San Francisco 49ers Coach Mike Singletary, "I hear that your mentor Bill Walsh was one of the first phone calls you made when you found out you had the job," per the Los Angeles Times. The problem was that Walsh had died a year prior. 

Sargent would later explain her mistake, that she meant to mention how Singletary had called Walsh long before when he decided to get into coaching, but goofed up in the moment. The segment was not live and could have been edited, but regardless, it aired, and put Sargent to shame. She described herself lying in bed for hours with a migraine after the incident, per Deadspin. But that gaffe was not a firing offense. Yelling out, "What the f*** was that!?" during a live taping on ESPN? That did get her canned. It was in 2006 that Sargent was heard laughing out the question and expletive over scenes from a basketball game. Clearly, she thought her mic was not hot, but it was. And at the end of the year, ESPN turned cold on her, not renewing her contract, according to Bleacher Report.

Jimmy the Greek Snyder fired for wildly racist interview

Nicknamed "Jimmy the Greek " due to his family roots, per The New York Times, Jimmy Snyder was a colorful guy. The problem was that he was also a pretty heavily bigoted guy, and he ran his mouth about it, too. Per The Washington Post, in early January of 1988, one of Snyder's mouthing-off sessions finally caught up to him. 

The statement in question was made during an afternoon interview with Ed Hotaling of WRC-TV-4, and by the evening, it had been aired on multiple other major news networks. Snyder's offensive statement, which was wildly unacceptable at the time and is egregious by today's standards, effectively espoused his hope that people of color were great athletes, but he hoped they would not get into professional coaching jobs — these roles being, in Snyder's mind, the last "white" bastion in sports. He went so far as to say, "The Black is a better athlete to begin with, because he's been bred that way," implying that owners of enslaved people had selectively bred human beings in the antebellum years and that, as a result, were stronger sports players.

Snyder was quickly asked to resign but refused, saying, per The Washington Post, "I never quit anything in my life. I apologized; I admitted I made a mistake in what I said and how I said it and was willing to let my record speak for itself." Refusing to leave voluntarily, Snyder was instead fired by CBS after 12 years with the network.

I'll shoot myself [rather] than watch that! - Mark Lye

In early 2022, golf commentator Mark Lye made a comment that could well have gotten him a slap on the wrist and merited an apology had he not kept running his mouth, doubling, and then tripling down on his sexist and misogynistic points. Lye, while speaking on Sirus XM radio's program "The Scorecard," said of the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) that he couldn't be paid enough to watch women's professional basketball, stating, according to NBC's Golf Channel: "It's kind of like, if you were a basketball player, and I'm not trashing anybody, please don't take it the wrong way, but I saw some highlights of ladies' basketball. Man, is there a gun in the house? I'll shoot myself [rather] than watch that!"

Lye went on to make it clear that he meant what he said, clarifying it was not basketball he disliked, just women's basketball, with: "You know, I love watching the men's basketball. I love watching the men's golf. I never used to like watching ladies' golf. But I will tell you this. I've been up close watching these ladies play because I used to have a big function every year called the Lucas Cup and I'd have LPGA players and PGA Tour players."

Mark Lye later tweeted (via Twitter): "The fact that I can't relate to WNBA does not make me sexist in any way. All you haters should listen to the whole segment, where I completely glorified women's golf, which I love to cover. Thanks for listening." But the damage was done, and he was fired from a host position with PGA Tour Radio.

Jeremy Roenick fired from NBC Sports over threesome joke

There's bad taste, there's bad timing, and then there's a combination of those two at once. Unfortunately for him, that's the duo Jeremy Roenick hit when making a joke about threesomes during an interview. And worse still, it wasn't just one comment, but a series of them and, adding even another layer to the mess, the people about whom he was speaking were his own wife, Tracy, and a close personal friend of theirs, sportscaster Kathryn Tappen, according to USA Today. Roenick's suspension and subsequent separation from NBC was an ignominious end to one chapter of a career that included an impressive 20-plus year career in the NHL, during which time he played for multiple teams and was a fan favorite, known to warmly engage with people he met, per USA Today.

But remarks Roenick made on the Barstool Sports' "Spittin' Chiclets" podcast were just too off-color for NBC executives. Among other things, Roenick discussed vacationing with his wife Tracy and their mutual friend and his frequent co-host Tappen, saying: "I play it off like we're all going to bed together every night, the three of us. If it really came to fruition, that would really be good. But it's never going to happen." 

He later apologized for the threesome jokes, but he also later expressed anger and disappointment that he would not be returning to NBC in a video shared via Twitter, also vowing to return to air somewhere soon. Tappen, on the other hand, was clear about her thoughts on the matter, saying she did not condone his unacceptable comments.

Thom Brennan sacked after homophobic jest

The firing of former Cincinnati Reds sports announcer Thom Brennaman was one of the strangest moments in recent sports history because it all played out in real-time, right before the very eyes (and ears) of sports fans. 

While calling a game between the Reds and the Kansas City Royals for FOX Sports, Brennaman inexplicably referred to the city of his home team's rivals as "one of the fag capitals of the world," as reported by Uproxx. Within minutes, outrage erupted on social media, and the network was obliged to take action. In a video shared by Twitter, at the start of the fifth inning, a visibly shaken Brennaman said to the cameras that he would be handing off the broadcast to another sportscaster and apologized for the aired comment he had made earlier that night, saying he was, "deeply ashamed," and adding, "If I have hurt anyone out there, I say from the bottom of my heart, I'm so very, very sorry."

Even as Brennaman ended his time in the announcer chair, he interrupted his apology to call a home run, the last such play he would call for the Reds. He seemed to fully grasp the depth of his blooper, saying at the end of his hybrid apology-play calling, "So that'll make it a four-nothing ballgame. I don't know if I'm going to be putting on this headset again. I don't know if it's gonna be for the Reds. I don't know if it's gonna be for my bosses at FOX." He then added further apologies and left the booth.