The dog days of August are pretty much the slowest time of year for sports in America. Football is a month away, and there’s only so much to say about baseball, which means sports talk hosts often have to reach to fill their airtime. But it’s never a great idea to reveal on-air that you once smacked your girlfriend. The New York Daily News reports that’s just what ESPN-LA Radio host and SportsNation co-anchor Max Kellerman did this week, and the Worldwide Leader apparently has suspended him. ESPN isn’t confirming or denying the suspension; the paper reported that the sports giant issued in a statement saying, “Max Kellerman will return to ESPN-LA Radio and SportsNation on Thursday.” But if true, it would be ESPN’s second sit-down of an employee in two weeks over comments tied to NFL running back Ray Rice’s two-game ban for domestic violence.
Kellerman’s remarks didn’t even come during his own radio show. He was talking with the hosts of his lead-in program Mason & Ireland on Monday when he recalled a fight with his then-girlfriend (now wife) during their college years, according to the Daily News. Kellerman, who co-hosts the daily afternoon-drive program Max & Marcellus on ESPN O&O KSPN, said he and the woman were drunk and she slapped him, so he slapped her back. He quickly added that he and his wife have been happily married for 20 years.
Inappropriate remarks aside, the real issue seems to be that Kellerman ignored a warning from ESPN brass that the Rice topic is decidedly touchy. “My understanding is that it was part of a larger conversation ESPN had with all its on-air people,” a radio insider told the Daily News. “Kellerman obviously didn’t pay attention.”
This all comes in the wake of ESPN suspending commentator Stephen A. Smith for his on-air remarks about domestic violence. “There’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman,” the often-polarizing analyst said July 25 on the network’s First Take. But later he added: “We also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation.” It kinda went downhill from there.
Unsolicited advice to ESPN dudes: Stick with grilling Johnny Manziel.