ESPN analyst Chris Broussard, who drew a firestorm of controversy earlier this year following his anti-gay remarks regarding NBA basketball player Jason Collins, took to Twitter last week and told people of faith to “stand 4 what you believe!” less than 24 hours after the “Duck Dynasty” suspension of star Phil Robertson.
“Men & women of God always stand 4 what u believe!” he wrote in the tweet at 1:48 p.m., which went widely unnoticed on Thursday. “DO NOT FOLD, BUCKLE or BACK UP!” he added.
Broussard, a devout Christian, didn’t specifically mention Robertson in his tweet. He did not respond to a request via Twitter for elaboration on his comments nor did he address any of the followers who inquired as well.
Reached for comment last Thursday, an ESPN spokesman clarified on Monday that the NBA analyst wasn’t referring to the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, who was put on indefinite hiatus last week after comparing homosexuality to bestiality.
“Chris told us the tweet was not specific to the ‘Duck Dynasty’ issue,” said the rep for the all-sports network. The spokesman would not elaborate as to what, if anything, Broussard was specifically referencing.
But the timing and nature of Broussard’s religion-tinged post certainly brought to mind Robertson’s own embattled cause.
It also was the first time the NBA analyst specifically addressed his religious followers since the Collins incident.
Regardless of whether Broussard was referencing Robertson or not regarding the tweet in question, he still certainly ran afoul of ESPN’s strict social-media guidelines, which prohibit any sort of messaging that advocates any kind of political or religious sentiment that isn’t relevant to the network’s core content.
“The first and only priority is to serve ESPN sanctioned efforts, including sports news, information and content,” according to the guidelines, which cite suspension and termination as potential consequences of social-media infractions.
While ESPN is taking Broussard at his word that he wasn’t citing ‘Duck Dynasty,’ a source at the network noted the tweet was used an opportunity to remind him of the social-network guidelines he’s expected to follow.
Back in April, Broussard made similar national headlines when he slammed Collins’ decision to come out as the first openly gay NBA player.
“I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ,” he said on television in response to the news, adding that Collins and similar homosexuals were living in “unrepentant sin.”
ESPN later issued an apology, saying the network regretted that the NBA commentator’s remarks cast a pall over Collins’ public decision. But unlike A&E, ESPN decided not to suspend Broussard.
Robertson has cited his Christian morality as reason for the GQ magazine remarks (“I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together,” he later stated) and has since received support from high-profile conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.
The controversy has also prompted hundreds of thousands of Robertson supporters to protest his suspension in petitions, including IStandWithPhil.com.