ESPN issued a public apology over incident during Auburn game
ESPN’s Jason Benetti forgot to do his homework before broadcasting the Auburn-Tulane and made the egregious mistake of interpreting AU students’ spelling out “Ride for Rod” as an acknowledgment of his booth partner Rod Gilmore. The students were, of course, remembering long-time Auburn broadcaster Rod Bramblett who was tragically killed in a car accident alongside his wife in May.
“They’re spelling Rod by the way,” Benetti said in the first half. “That’s very nice. It’s for Rod Gilmore. They’re spelling your name. They’ve got a heart for you. I mean that’s just for you.”
“Oh, for me? Beautiful,” Gilmore replied.
A video capturing Benetti and Gilmore’s exchange spread on social media. In the second half, Benetti took a moment of the broadcast to apologize.
“We showed the student section earlier today, and I made mention of my partner’s name, Rod Gilmore, while we were showing the letters that spelled out Rod and a heart on somebody’s chest,” Benetti said during the game, per AL.com. “The day Rod (Bramblett) died … I have a number of friends that knew Rod very closely. You work long enough in the media field, and you get to know people through others. Rod was a dear person, and I apologize for putting any further sting to a death that was so important to the Auburn family. I didn’t mean that in any way, shape or form.
“I am deeply sorry, and crestfallen that anyone took what I said and, rightfully so, that I said what I said without knowing what the body paint was for. Because Rod Bramblett is a dear person to so many people here. … My condolences to the Auburn family. The last thing I want to do is make this any worse for anyone who is really hurting.”
Prior to kickoff of the Tulane game, Auburn released a tribute to Bramblett and his wife.