Boston sports radio personality Michael Felger apologized on Thursday for making what he admitted were “low-class, bad, not good” comments pertaining to the death of former star MLB pitcher Roy Halladay, who was piloting a single-engine plane that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
“In a nutshell, I would say that I feel bad about what happened on a lot of levels,” Felger said. “I feel bad about what I said and how I conducted myself.”
In a long rant on Wednesday, Felger scorned Halladay as having behaved in a foolish and selfish manner and having “deserved” his fate.
Saying, “This is the kind of death that makes me angry,” the co-host of the “Felger and Mazz” show launched into extended comments that dripped with disdain for what he described as Halladay’s recklessness. He called the former Blue Jays and Phillies ace, who died at age 40 and left behind a wife and two sons, a “moron” and a “jackass.”
“It angers me. Someone, who, I don’t know, is so cavalier about life, and just doesn’t appreciate the tenuousness of life, and is willing to screw around with life and death? Especially when you have children, or a family?” Felger said, referring to a video posted to TMZ that showed what is purported to be Halladay’s plane hotdogging before going down. “ … That guy’s like the bad guy to me. You’ve got a family! And you’re going to screw around in a little toy plane?”
In his apology on Thursday, Felger said he felt especially remorseful about how his “over-the-top” comments may have affected Halladay’s grieving family.
“I could come in and say ‘I apologize if I offended anyone,’ but that’s fake and hollow and everyone hates that, don’t you? Isn’t that the worst, when someone comes in and says that? Besides, the only folks that I would really want to extend that to are the loved ones of Halladay,” he said. “They’re the ones dealing with enough right now, not to have to have me come over the top and do what I did yesterday. So, sorry doesn’t do that justice as it relates to them. That one’s gonna stick with me for a while.”
Felger didn’t walk back his comments entirely, however. He added, “There is stuff that I did mean,” referring to Wednesday comments, but criticized his own presentation and tone.
“The hyperbole was just low-class, bad, not good,” he said. “I don’t feel good about it.”
What caused Halladay to crash his Icon A5 amphibious plane in the water remains unknown as the National Transportation Safety Board investigators continue to investigation. Investigations did confirm on Wednesday, however, that Halladay’s plane was flying low over the Gulf when it slammed into the water.
Halladay, who became passionate about aviation after retiring from baseball in 2013, shared his passion for flying on social media and had expressed great excitement about acquiring the A5 in October.
In his rant on Wednesday, Felger questioned Halladay’s experience level.
“When this guy went down in the plane yesterday, I said, ‘I don’t know the details, but hopefully this isn’t JFK Jr., somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing, screwing around with a plane and killing himself, for all intents and purposes.’ And it just sort of angers me,” Felger said. “You care that little about your life? About the life of your family? Your little joyride is that important to you that you’re going to risk just dying?”
At various points, Felger employed a high-pitched, mocking tone of voice, as he mimicked Halladay and others performing daredevil stunts in planes. “‘Wheee! Oh look, I just landed on the water, everybody! I’m going to tweet it!’ Splat,” he said. “You’re dead. With two kids. Moron.”
“I find it offensive that you’re that cavalier about life. That it’s more important that you’re going to get your rocks off.”
“Felger and Mazz” is one of the most popular radio shows in sports-mad Boston, where pundits’ comments are often delivered in an abrasive manner. A former sportswriter for the Boston Herald, Felger has offered numerous attention-grabbing opinions over the past few years, including repeated assertions that athletes should not miss games to attend the births of their children.
“It’s the Howard Stern effect,” an executive at CBS Radio, which employs Felger, said of him to the Boston Globe this year. “Whether you loved him or you hated him, you always wanted to know what Howard’s take was going to be.’’
On Wednesday, Felger’s take on Halladay included saying, “As a 40-year-old grown-a– man, you’re still doing that, to the point where you’ve got to get in planes and race cars, and all that crap? I’m sorry, dude, you’re on your own. I’ve got no sympathy for you. I feel horribly for your family, who, by the way, begged you not to get that plane.”
“If I die helicopter skiing, you have the right to do the exact same thing I’m doing to Roy Halladay,” Felger added. “He got what he deserved.”
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