ESPN Cleveland reporter Tony Grossi has been suspended indefinitely by the station for making a derogatory remark about Baker Mayfield on a hot mic at the 2020 NFL Combine.
In the viral video, reporters are heard discussing quarterbacks when Mayfield’s name is mentioned. A voice, which has been identified as Grossi’s, replies, “F–king midget.”
Mayfield is listed as 6-foot-1 on the Cleveland Browns’ website.
Good Karma Brands, which operates ESPN Cleveland, released the following statement about the matter:
“We are aware of Tony Grossi’s statement about Baker Mayfield. The term Tony used is a derogatory slur to describe Little People. Good Karma Brands will not tolerate derogatory language that demeans others or groups of people. We are addressing this matter with Tony directly, and while we normally do not comment on personnel matters, we do want to share that we have made the decision to immediately and indefinitely suspend Tony Grossi. In addition, we will pursue sensitivity and inclusion training for everyone on our content teams across our company.”
It’s no secret that Grossi and Mayfield have a strained relationship. The reporter threw shade at Mayfield ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft in a tweet that read, “1. Darnold. 2. Rosen. 3. Allen. 4. Anyone else,” referencing Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.
Grossi also threatened to retire if the Browns drafted Mayfield, who was eventually selected No. 1 overall.
In October, Mayfield called one of Grossi’s questions “the dumbest question you could ask,” and the two regularly bicker on Twitter.
Fans and members of the media immediately took to social media to excoriate the reporter’s actions.
“Hard to see how Tony Grossi can be allowed to cover the Browns again. This wasn’t his first unprofessional incident,” tweeted Andrew Joseph of For the Win.
“Cleveland has always deserved so much better,” tweeted Camryn Justice of News 5 in Cleveland.
“If Grossi still has a job after this ESPN Cleveland should be shut down, it’s already a joke of a station but when you got ‘reporters’ talking like that you lose any sense of professionalism and credibility,” tweeted @MoreForYou_CLE.
“There are a lot of young, talented sports writers/personalities in NE Ohio who wouldn’t take a position like Grossi’s for granted & who would know how to connect with fans. wish we could hear more from those kind of people,” tweeted @BurdsIVue.
Grossi issued an apology Tuesday afternoon in response to the backlash.
“There’s no excuse for using that language in any context. It was said without malice but also without thought,” Grossi wrote on Twitter. “It is well known that Baker and I have had our differences, and in the course of this experience, I’ve had to question my role in the erosion of the relationship. I have always endeavored to report and comment on him and the team fairly, and am shaken by these events.”