And he wasn’t even Kidding |

And he wasn’t even Kidding

Todd Hartley

By now, if you are a serious sports fan, you’ve hard about the bonehead comments Bob Ryan made last Sunday about New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd’s wife.

Ryan, a sports columnist for The Boston Globe and on-air personality for ESPN, commented on a Boston TV show that he thought someone should “smack” Joumana Kidd. He also called Joumana an “exhibitionist” and said that she was using her 3-year-old son “as a prop” to get on TV during Nets playoff games.

That, as you might imagine, is not the sort of thing that anyone, let alone as public a figure as Ryan, should say on TV. Fortunately, the show’s host, Bob Lobel, knew this, so he threw Ryan a rope to save himself from tumbling over the cliff.

“You can’t say that,” said Lobel. “What’s happening here? You know what, I will give you a mulligan on that.”

Ryan twisted the rope into a noose. “I’m not looking for that,” he said.

Lobel, God bless him, tried again to save the foundering columnist. “You just don’t want to smack her. You just don’t mean to say that. Really, tell me you don’t.”

And then Ryan promptly hung himself. “Why should I say anything different than I said all playoffs last year?” he said.

Now, if Ryan were a mean but clever man instead of just a mean man, he might have made the comment as a bad joke in a bar to someone he didn’t care about offending, and then he might have had a chance to get away with it. Because Joumana was allegedly the victim of domestic abuse in 2001 at Jason’s hands.

So there is a sick irony to Ryan’s comments, but he didn’t mean what he said as a joke. Apparently, Bob Ryan really think’s someone should smack Joumana Kidd.

For his remarks, Ryan was suspended without pay from the Globe – and banned from appearing on radio or TV – for a mere month. Better men than Bob Ryan have had their careers destroyed for saying things far less offensive than what Ryan said.

Jimmy the Greek disappeared from the public eye moments after implying that African-Americans were better athletes because slave owners had bred them that way. The Greek was by no accounts a racist man and was sincerely contrite about his remarks, but he never got a chance to recant them.

Howard Cosell, one of the first white sportscasters to acknowledge Muhammad Ali by his Muslim name, was nearly done in when he called Alvin Garrett, a shortish wideout for the Washington Redskins, a “little monkey.” Cosell didn’t mean anything racist by his comments, but he was nevertheless castigated universally.

Only once in the past has a sports figure completely whiffed on the mulligan the way Ryan did. Al Campanis, then the vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said on “Nightline” that he thought minorities lacked some of the tools necessary to work in the front office of a major league franchise. Ted Koppel offered Campanis a chance to take back what he said, but Campanis repeated the statement.

Campanis was guilty only of not realizing what he was saying. He was a teammate of Jackie Robinson’s in Brooklyn and a great champion of Latino ballplayers while working in Los Angeles – not a racist at all. Yet he was fired from the Dodgers within weeks of his “Nightline” appearance.

So here comes Ryan, who says something undeniably cruel about the victim of a violent crime, means what he said and then reiterates twice that he means what he said, despite the host’s attempts to save him. And he gets to take a vacation for a month. If this bozo doesn’t deserve to get fired, nobody does.

Ryan has long been a boorish loudmouth who wouldn’t get hired for his job if he had to apply for it now. His only claim to his position is the fact that he’s had it for decades and won’t let go of it.

The truth is, though, that Ryan and his obnoxious opinions and misogynistic leanings got old and stale years ago. He’s part of an Old Guard of sportswriters whose time has run out and who should be forced into retirement.

So when he returns in a month, providing his current employers don’t wise up in that time, let’s see what we can do to let it be known that we don’t care for Bob Ryan anymore. And let’s rid ourselves of him once and for all.

And tell him not to let the door smack him in the ass on the way out.

Five-time Smackdown battle royale champion Todd Hartley writes this column on Fridays in The Aspen Times. E-mail at

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