ESPN issued an apology and explanation Tuesday after airing a live version of a fantasy football auction 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 segments featured an auctioneer offering NFL players, some of whom were African American, up for bid to a group of fantasy football players, most of whom were white men. For many people, this came too close to resembling a slave auction. And the segment came two days after deadly violence around a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
One of the players featured in the segment, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., tweeted that he was “speechless.”
Others had plenty to say. Some, including Rams defensive end Dominique Easley and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan were not happy about the segments. Others, including ESPN on-air personality Kenny Mayne, defended the network, often while acknowledging the bad “optics.”
I understand man.— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 15, 2017
Have you seen Get Out?
As a general rule, white men NEVER need to be bidding for Black men on the auction block.
draft auction during their fantasy draft show, you are begging for attention, there is pleanty of real racism, you dont need to make some up— AI (@ksinmissouri) August 16, 2017
it was a fantasy football auction draft. Don't act like you didn't play in the ESPN celebrity league last year.— Bryan Scanlon (@Bscanosu21) August 16, 2017
I understand why people might be upset with espn auction draft skit. But that is literally how an auction draft works— Nikki 2SHIRTS (@L0rdKenner) August 16, 2017