Grossi’s unfortunate hot-mic moment Tuesday morning probably won’t thaw that relationship. Reporting from the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Grossi referred to the 6-foot-1 Mayfield as a “f------ midget” while talking with ESPN Cleveland studio hosts Aaron Goldhammer and Tony Rizzo, unaware that his microphone was still on.
Good Karma Brands, which owns the radio station, announced Tuesday afternoon that it had suspended Grossi indefinitely because of the comment.
“We area aware of Tony Grossi’s statement about Baker Mayfield,” the company said in a statement announcing Grossi’s suspension. “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.”
The company also said it will conduct “sensitivity and inclusion training” for its employees.
“From Good Karma Brands, to our fans, our partners, the Browns and Baker Mayfield — we are sorry.”
ESPN Cleveland serves as the co-flagship station of the Browns radio network.
Grossi also apologized in a statement posted to Twitter, saying he was “truly sorry for my language and choice of words.”
“There’s no excuse for using that language in any context,” he wrote. “It was said without malice but also without thought.
“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.”
Inadvertently aired comments have landed Grossi in similarly hot water in the past. After roughly two decades covering the Browns for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the paper removed him from the beat in January 2012 after he called then-Browns owner Randy Lerner “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world” in what was intended to be a direct Twitter message to a colleague. Instead, Grossi sent out the comments over his main Twitter account, which then had more than 15,000 followers.
Grossi resigned from the Plain Dealer about three months later to cover the Browns for ESPN Cleveland.
Joe Kurtz, vice president of the Northeast Ohio Chapter #35 of Little People America, said he hopes Grossi’s comments will serve as a reminder that “midget” is considered a slur.
“Hopefully the more we talk about it, the more we bring awareness to it and it will bring it to a stop,” Kurtz told WJW-TV in Cleveland.
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