ESPN employees Jeannine Edwards and Ron Franklin worked the Chick-fil-A Bowl together last week for the network’s radio broadcast—Franklin doing play-by-play from the booth and Edwards chiming in occasionally with a sideline report. The night went smoothly, a minor miracle given what happened just a few hours earlier.
The two were involved in a heated exchange instigated by the 68-year-old Franklin. Franklin, Ed Cunningham and Rod Gilmore were discussing Gimore’s wife, Marie, who was recently elected Mayor of Alameda, CA. Edwards tried to join the conversation late at which point Franklin said: “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes?” Unfortunately, Franklin didn’t stop there. Even more unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time he has publicly degraded a female co-worker. In fact, the last time was even worse.
The internet is abuzz about the exchange. Countless sports blogs have reported it, as well as mainstream sites such as the Huffington Post and Fox News. But the most detailed account comes from a highly regarded sports blog known as SportsByBrooks. According to the site, Edwards did not take too kindly to Franklin’s antiquated remarks, responding with: “Don’t call me sweetcakes. I don’t like to be talked to like that.”
Franklin replied by saying, “Okay, fine,” then directly addressing Edwards with an obscenity that, um, rhymes with class mole.
Edwards reported the exchange as soon as the meeting ended. Once ESPN was able to corroborate the story, they contemplated pulling Franklin from the Chick-fil-A Bowl but could not find a replacement on such late notice. Franklin was pulled, however, from his duties the following night in Arizona. He and Edwards were scheduled to work together again calling the Fiesta bowl for ESPN radio, but the networked opted for Dave Lamont to fill in for Franklin.
I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable. The fact that Franklin is still rolling with terms like “sweetcakes,” or that he seems to think such behavior is acceptable. OH. Wait. It doesn’t matter which one of those things is more unbelievable. Because neither of them are as unbelievable than this. Edwards has made these types of sexist remarks before. On live TV.
In October of 2005, Holly Rowe praised a Purdue coach who had used all three of his timeouts in spite of the fact that his team was down by 28 points late in the game. “If the coaches are giving up,” Rowe added, “what does that say to the players?”
Franklin’s response to Rowe’s legitimate take? “Holly, it’s not giving up. It’s 49-21, sweetheart.”
You know who watches college football in general and bowl games in specific? Kids. And the last thing I want is for a generation of them to think that such comments are acceptable. After all, on live TV, remarks like the unenlightened ones Franklin made to Holly Rowe will get glossed over to avoid an embarrassing situation. Such downplaying might make an impressionable kid think that it’s okay to demean others. In essence, Franklin and others like him set a poor example that I don’t want our kids to pick up on, namely that it’s okay to dismiss a point made by a woman as, well, a point made by a woman.
ESPN Spokesman Josh Krulewitz was cryptic when asked by SportsByBrooks about Franklin’s future. “We’re not going to get into specifics other than to say adhering to our personal conduct policies and showing respect for colleagues are of the utmost importance to our company and we take them extremely seriously.”
I won’t be so cryptic, however. I hope the clown gets fired. He’s obviously stuck in the 50s. It’s time he’s replaced by someone who can treat his co-workers with respect. Someone who isn’t apt to slip up on air and send the wrong message to a generation of kids.
I bet Franklin would just hate getting relieved of his broadcasting duties. Think about it. What are the odds of his next job title containing the word “broad”?