Already steeped in controversy stemming from a failed multi-million-dollar video-game venture, former Red Sox pitcher and current ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling has managed to stir up just a little bit more.
The former World Series MVP issued an apology Tuesday, shortly after he was suspended by ESPN for posting an image to Twitter comparing Muslims to Nazis.
I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) August 25, 2015
The controversial post, published Tuesday morning, featured an image of Adolf Hitler in Nazi regalia, along with the words “It’s said only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?”
Along with the image, Schilling wrote: “The math is staggering when you get to true #’s.”
The tweet was quickly deleted, but not before a screenshot had been posted online, sparking widespread outrage as it made its way across the Web.
By Tuesday afternoon, ESPN had announced that Schilling — part of two World Series titles with the Red Sox during his four-year tenure with the team — had been removed from his duties as an analyst for the Little League World Series.
“Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective,” wrote Josh Krulewitz, ESPN’s vice president of communications. “We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.”
Told of Schilling’s comments Tuesday, Thomas Barfield, a professor at Boston University who serves as director for the school’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilization, called Schilling’s post “snarky and designed to be deliberately offensive,” and held it as evidence that ignorance can come from everywhere.
“What it tends to show is that ignorance, in a sense, can come from all ranks of society,” Barfield said. “If you heard it from some guy in a bar, you might blow it off. Some guy speaking to the guys in the bar from the TV might have a louder speaker, but it doesn’t make any more sense.”
Schilling is no stranger to eyebrow-raising Twitter activity. Last year, he used the social media site to engage in a lengthy debate regarding evolution, saying at one point that “it’s been disproved about a thousand times.”
He has also been outspoken in his conservative beliefs. He was a vocal supporter of Republicans George W. Bush and John McCain during their respective presidential campaigns. And after failing to receive the votes necessary to be inducted into baseball’s 2015 Hall of Fame class, he suggested in an interview with WEEI that his political views might have been the reason for his exclusion.
With Tuesday’s news, Schilling reaffirmed his place on a lengthy list of athletes and former athletes who have drawn criticism for controversial social media postings.
Current Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who led the Buckeyes to a national championship last season, was suspended for one game in 2012 after he called classes “pointless” and questioned why football players were required to attend. More recently, Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones was fined and suspended after posting remarks critical of Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player.
Earlier this month, meanwhile, the head of the Rhode Island state police reportedly acknowledged that authorities were conducting a criminal investigation into a deal between the state and Schilling’s 38 Studios. Two years after the 2010 loan agreement, Schilling’s company declared bankruptcy.Dugan Arnett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @duganarnett.