Baseball analyst Curt Schilling has come to terms with his suspension by employer ESPN.
Along the lines of the so-called golden rule (i.e., whoever has the gold makes the rules), the former MLB ace conceded in an interview that the sports network did what it had to do to protect its brand.
“When you own the company, when you have the brand, when it’s your job to protect whatever it is you believe you are protecting, you get to make the rules, and I broke them, and that’s the way it works,” Schilling explained on the Dennis & Callahan, plus Minihane, sports talk show on Boston’s WEEI on Thursday morning.
The star pitcher and World War II history buff originally got into trouble for a retweet (since deleted) comparing Muslim extremists to Nazis. Following a social media backlash, the “worldwide leader in sports” pulled him from the Little League World Series booth, and ESPN subsequently benched him from Sunday Night Baseball and Baseball Tonight for the rest of the season.
Schilling revealed in the interview that he had second thoughts about the tweet in question almost immediately after sending it, but was on a plane and was unable to delete it right away.
Previously, in an August 25 follow-up tweet, Schilling accepted the initial ESPN suspension: “100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.”
Schilling, 48, probably didn’t help himself by sending a long email to a sports website about the controversy, which that website subsequently published without the ex-pitcher’s consent. Schilling’s main beef seemed to be that many media outlets failed to report that the tweet in question referred to extremist Muslims, not Muslims generally.
ESPN suits were probably less than pleased that Schilling’s email exchange also included throwing some shade on the network’s NFL correspondent Chris Mortensen for his problematic reportage on the New England Patriots Deflategate controversy.
Although the internet seemed to be outraged about the controversial retweet, Schilling expressed appreciation for what he described as the overwhelming amount of support that he’s received on social media. He reminded his supporters that First Amendment free speech protections don’t apply to a private corporation which in general can make its own rules. He suggested to Dennis & Callahan, however, that he didn’t appreciate allegations of racism leveled against him which he insisted were, in part, politically motivated.
“I work for people that think differently than I do…I did something in a forum I shouldn’t have done. When there is something to jump on, people want to believe you represent the organization you work for…the people who are calling me the things they’re calling me don’t like me to begin with…I got suspended because the rules of the company I work for I broke. I don’t have a problem with that… It wasn’t the content, it was the act. I’m not racist. I don’t have a racist bone in my body…That’s not who I am.”
Schilling has an MLB win-loss record of 216-146 with more than 3,000 strikeouts and a career 3.46 ERA. He is a three-time World Series champion (2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2004 and 2007 with the Boston Red Sox), joining ESPN as a baseball commentator in 2010. He is also a recent throat cancer survivor.
Dennis & Callahan previously insisted that Curt Schilling would never have been suspended had he tweeted out, for example, a pro gun control message following the WDBJ shooting. They also wondered why Cris Carter wasn’t suspended from ESPN after video surfaced of him advising NFL rookies to roll with a “fall guy” for the police to arrest if they get mixed up in a potential nightlife-related crime.
Apart from Dennis & Callahan, Curt Schilling seems to have at least one other supporter in the mainstream media: New York Post media columnist Phil Mushnick, who claimed that Schilling is a truth-teller as far as World War II history is concerned.
[Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images Sport]