Former Giants pitcher Shawn Estes said Wednesday condemned Cincinnati Reds play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman's use of a homophobic slur during a Fox Sports Ohio broadcast on Wednesday, saying that Brennaman's comments would've been just as harmful if they were caught off-mic rather than on the air.
Brennaman referred to Kansas City, where the Reds were playing the Royals, as one of the "f-g capitals of the world" during the broadcast of the first game of Cincinnati's Wednesday doubleheader. The broadcaster apologized during the broadcast of the second game "to the people who sign my paycheck, for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with [and] for anybody I’ve offended here tonight." His apology didn't mention the LGBTQ+ community, and the Reds said in a statement Brennaman was suspended "effective immediately" once he was pulled off the air after apologizing.
Estes said Brennaman "can never take back" his comments.
"What happened [tonight] is that words hurt, and they matter," Estes said on "Giants Postgame Live." "I think tonight what happened was he said something he can never take back. People will say, 'Well, you've gotta know your mic's hot. Whatever, you've done this for a long time,' which he has. There's a lot of other people that can hear what you're saying in-between innings. So, the fact that his mic was hot or not hot, that's not even the point. The point is the fact that he even thought about it, and then actually said what he said."
Brennaman was the Arizona Diamondbacks' play-by-play broadcaster when Estes played for the team in 2005. He said he knew Brennaman "a little bit," but not enough to know if the announcer's use of the slur was "out of character" or not.
Brennaman told The Athletic's C. Trent Rosecrans that he "of course" understood his comments were offensive, and he said on the broadcast he was aware that Wednesday could've been his last with the Reds, as well as in general. Rosecrans also asked Brennaman if he had a message for LGBTQ+ people.
“I have never in my life, not for one second of my life, have I been homophobic, have I been racist, have I been any of those words that are terrible, terrible words,” he told The Athletic on Wednesday. “And I would stand next to any LGBT person in the world, and lock arm-in-arm with them that they have all the same rights as every other person born on God’s green earth.”
Estes and "Giants Postgame Live" host Kelli Johnson agreed that Brennaman's on-air apology fell short, believing the ease with which Brennaman used the slur was revealing.
"So, now the perception is what it is now, and a lot of times these perceptions of people based on what they say -- they're true," Estes continued. They're not one-off things of, 'Oh, I slipped up and said this.' When it flows that freely out of your mouth in that environment around people that you know can hear, even if you don't think the audience is listening, to me that says a lot about maybe his character."
"I felt the same way," Johnson added. "He said, 'It's not who I am. It never has been.' And yet, that word came out of his mouth fairly easily. So it's hard to understand if that's not who you are, how you spoke in that way -- which is very hurtful and hateful to the LGBT community."