ESPN apologizes for ‘racist’ fantasy football draft special (video)


ESPN issued an apology statement on Tuesday after airing a live auction-style fantasy football draft special that some people felt was racist.

“Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players,” the network said in a statement. “Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”

The fact the segment featured NFL players, most of whom are African American, being put up for auction in a fantasy draft, where the bidders were mostly white men, left many criticizing it for being racist and tone deaf, particularly coming two days after the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Star wide receiver for the New York Giants, Odell Beckham Jr., who was featured in the segment, tweeted that he was “speechless.” Many other NFL players, including Rams defensive end Dominic Easley and Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, took to Twitter to voice their disgust.

ESPN on-air personality Kenny Mayne defended his employer despite agreeing it was “bad optics.”

“Fam-The optics aren’t good, agreed. But it was replicating fantasy football auctions–whites up for bid, too. We appreciate you,” Mayne said.

Others responded angrily, even referencing the recent racially-charged Hollywood hit, “Get Out.”

“I understand man,” replied Shaun King on Twitter. “Have you seen Get Out? As a general rule, white men NEVER need to be bidding for Black men on the auction block.”

In June, ESPN co-host Max Kellerman claimed that the NFL is “injecting politics” by playing the national anthem at football games. The conversation was surrounding the recent comparison of Colin Kaepernick to boxer Muhammad Ali.

Below past the videos are Twitter reactions regarding the deeming of the draft being racist:

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