ESPN Cleveland has suspended radio personality, columnist and long-time Baker Mayfield adversary Tony Grossi for a NSFW statement he made on the Cleveland Browns quarterback that was caught on a hot mic.
While discussing quarterbacks the Browns had a chance at previously and others they will miss on — including Joe Burrow, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes — Grossi was heard calling Mayfield a “f***ing midget.” The audio is below, but warning — the NSFW language is included.
Shortly after the quote went viral on social media the station decided to suspend Grossi indefinitely.
“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,” ESPN Cleveland said in a statement.
“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. From Good Karma Brands, to our fans, our partners, the Browns and Baker Mayfield – we are sorry.”
Good Karma Brands owns and operates several ESPN Radio affiliates.
Tony Grossi Has History With Baker Mayfield
Prior to being taken No. 1 overall by the Browns in 2018, much was made of Mayfield’s height, which came in just under 6-foot-1. Mayfield went on to set the rookie passing touchdown record during his first season in the NFL. Grossi has been one of his loudest critics and the two have had spats in the past, with the rivalry predating the Browns drafting the former Heisman winner.
Their beef boiled over during this past season, when Grossi asked what Mayfield deemed the “dumbest question you could ask.” What started the ordeal was Grossi asking about the lack of urgency at the end of the first half in a loss to the Patriots.
“Stop saying but,” Mayfield told Grossi. “I just told you the clock was running and we had a penalty. You want to give them the ball back? No. You don’t play, you don’t know. That’s just plain and simple.”
Grossi followed up with, “were you happy with that drive?”
“Was I happy with the drive? No, we didn’t score points,” Mayfield answered. “The dumbest question you could ask. What? Jesus, Tony.”
After the confrontation, Grossi admitted that he believes the beef goes back to the pre-draft reporting he did on Mayfield, which noted that he wanted first-class airfare when making visits. He also hinted that Mayfield wasn’t able to pay for the upgrades himself.
That tension has carried over to their day-to-day, which is often very contentious.
“I think it goes back to the pre-draft conversations we had, things I said, things I wrote. OK, fine, but you have to move along,” Grossi said in an interview after the “Jesus Tony” incident. “I tried to talk to him twice, alone, but he just wants no part of that. If he’s not going to do that I have to do my job as best as I can.”
Tony Grossi Has Been Banned From Browns Beat Before
Grossi is one of the most experienced reporters on the Browns beat, but he has an interesting background covering the franchise. In 2012 the Cleveland Plain Dealer removed Tony Grossi from covering the team after he tweeted out that then-Browns owner Randy Lerner was “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.”
It appeared that Grossi was trying to send a direct message, but instead tweeted out his true feelings for the world to see.
The apology for the incident read similar to the latest one: “Last night, Plain Dealer Browns beat reporter Tony Grossi made an inadvertent, inappropriate post to Twitter concerning Browns owner Randy Lerner. Grossi has reached out to Lerner to apologize. The Plain Dealer also apologizes.”
READ NEXT: Browns Linked to ‘Captivating’ Free Agent