After ESPN announcer Ron Franklin called ESPN broadcasting colleague Jeannine Edwards “sweet baby” and “a–hole“ during a verbal exchange before the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta last Friday, ESPN management informed Franklin that he would not be working the Fiesta Bowl radio broadcast in Arizona the next night as previously scheduled. (Edwards, who was not the person to report the incident to ESPN officials, was scheduled to work the Fiesta Bowl as well.)
(Franklin with former partner Ed Cunningham)
Surprisingly though, Franklin caught a flight to Phoenix anyway.
With members of ESPN management in Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl, Franklin made the decision to take his previously-scheduled flight from Atlanta to Phoenix to meet with network executives about the incident that led to his Fiesta Bowl booth removal.
After the incident, Franklin was asked by ESPN Programming Executive Norby Williamson to apologize personally to Edwards in a timely manner. But despite Franklin being in Phoenix the same day Edwards was also in town to work the Fiesta Bowl broadcast, Franklin never called, emailed or approached Edwards to express any manner of regret.
When ESPN announced Franklin’s dismissal two days later, on Tuesday afternoon, he had still not apologized to Edwards for an incident that had taken place the previous Friday.
Williamson, who has long supported Franklin at ESPN despite the veteran announcer’s notorious lack of tact in dealing with colleagues (some ESPNers call him “chappy”), could no longer justify taking up for Franklin after he didn’t apologize to Edwards per the ESPN executive’s reasonable request.
Today Richard Sandomir of the NEW YORK TIMES has Franklin’s first on-the-record reaction to his firing.
Two days after ESPN fired him for making what have been described as condescending remarks to a sideline reporter, Ron Franklin said on Thursday that he is not responding to the dismissal and would “continue to take the high road.”
In an e-mail, he wrote, “The most important thing to me at the moment (and surprising) is since 4 p.m. yesterday we have received over 500 e-mails and phone calls nearing the 300 mark.” He said that coaches, athletic directors, officials, friends and strangers had left him messages. “Heartwarming indeed,” he said.
In his e-mail, Franklin wrote: “For anyone who has questioned whether I like women or not … I have been married 45 1/2 wonderful years to the most beautiful and bright lady you have ever met. She is my rock.” He added, “I just want this thing to end so we can have our lives back.”
Is it unreasonable to wonder why none of the hundreds of “coaches, athletic directors, officials” and broadcasting colleagues who privately reached out to Franklin didn’t offer any overly vociferous, on-the-record support to the longtime announcer in the media before or after he was fired?
Knowing that Franklin didn’t apologize to Edwards - even after a request from an ESPN executive who has had the oft-cantankerous broadcaster’s back for decades - it’s hard for me to sympathize with Franklin’s “I just want this thing to end so we can have our lives back” lament.
There’s no defending calling a co-worker “a–hole” in a public setting. Especially as a man to a woman.
There’s no defending making sexist remarks to female colleagues on-the-air in 2005 to Holly Rowe and to Edwards six days ago. There’s no defending not apologizing to the person you insulted - especially after a request to do so by the one guy at your company who has championed your cause through thick and thin
Some have called Franklin’s firing harsh, but there’s a lot more to this situation than the sparse, on-the-record details being reported in the main media.
ESPN has long been slow to correct what has certainly been a toxic working environment for female employees at the company over the years.
Better late than never.
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