As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, yesterday’s controversial episode of 98.5. The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz featured Michael Felger going on a 10 minute rant. He eviscerated the late Roy Halladay for being wholly complicit in his own untimely demise. Reactions from fans and media members alike rained down upon the station’s Brighton office, calling for Felger’s suspension and/or outright firing. I want to make it clear that I do not personally agree with the tone or the timing of his words (less than 24 hours after the late pitcher’s passing). I simply don’t believe Mike Felger’s position at The Sports Hub should be, in any way, in jeopardy.
The sports world was shaken on Tuesday, November 7, as news quickly spread that Roy Halladay’s ICON A5 plane has crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. Reports of Halladay’s death sent shock-waves across North America. The 40 year old was an athlete beloved and respected by all. Each Halladay start was must-see television. He’ll undoubtedly be posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame upon meeting eligibility requirements.
Yesterday, celebrity gossip website, TMZ, posted video of the moments immediately preceding the Halladay accident. The video shows Halladay flying high in the air, only to suddenly zip down, buzzing the water at a high speed. A number of witnesses stated that the pitcher had been flying in an aggressive nature all week. The manner in which Halladay was flying obviously piqued the interest of onlookers, so much so that many whipped out their cell phones to film the impromptu air show.
FELGER’S ON-AIR RANT
With social media abuzz after hearing of TMZ’s footage, Felger saw an opportunity to make news, and unleashed a harsh rant in which he unfairly crucified the recently deceased baseball star.
Awful Announcing captured the rant in all its train wreck glory and posted it their website. Click here to listen. For those unable to do so, here are a few of the comments making headlines today:
- “It angers me. Someone, who, I don’t know, is so cavalier about life and just doesn’t appreciate the tenuousness of life and is willing to screw around with life and death? Especially when you have children, or a family?”
- “You’ve got to get your rocks off by whatever it is you do that cheats death.”
- “You’re a multimillionaire with a loving family, and to you, you have to go get that thing where you can dive-bomb from 100 feet to five above the water with your single-engine plane with your hand out the window. ‘Wheee! Wheee! Yeah, man, look at the G-force on this! I’m Maverick! Pew pew pew! Yeah, man, look at this, this is so cool.’ And you die! Splat!”
- “…It just sort of angers me. You care that little about your life? About the life of your family? Your little joyride is that important to you that you’re going to risk just dying?”
- “I’m sorry, dude, you’re on your own. I’ve got no sympathy for you.”
- “Wheee! Oh look, I just landed on the water, everybody! I’m going to tweet it!’ Splat. You’re dead. With two kids. Moron.”
Without a doubt, the way that Felger went about hammering a man who literally just passed away was ill-conceived at best. There were a myriad of ways that he could have better communicated his beliefs that Halladay’s death was avoidable. However, is anyone truly surprised that he decided to opportunistically go off the deep end? It’s what he does. He’s always been the pot stirrer. And you know what? People eat it up. The popular afternoon program once again finished first in the ratings this past summer. Fans want to hear what Felger will say next.
Now, let’s, as sports fans, take out of the equation the fact a future Hall of Famer was the one who unfortunately perished in this accident. How many of us could honestly say that we wouldn’t agree, at least in part, with some of what Felger had to say? Yes, he was brash and over the top. It was hyperbolic. Yet, many human beings deal with the death of strangers in a similar fashion.
Death makes us all uncomfortable. We can’t help but reflect on our own mortality. In hopes of easing our own anxiety, we look to rationalize the way in which a person meant their untimely demise. How many times have you learned of a fatal single vehicle crash, and immediately imagined yourself as the victim?
In an attempt to alleviate our own fear of death, we examine the cause of said accident. If we read that the cause of the crash was speeding, texting, etc., it’s natural for human beings to say to themselves that it wouldn’t have been them in the car…
Well, I never text while driving. The victim should’ve known better!
Was what Felger said yesterday anything more than an ill-advised attempt at rationalizing a man’s death?
While many talking heads are filling the airwaves with talk of wanting to see Felger fired, I believe that the best punishment would be for him to stay on the air. He said what he said. He needs to own it. While his feelings may have been similar to thoughts we’ve all had upon hearing of such accidents, it was poorly timed and overly harsh. He deserves to field all of the angry calls that’ll certainly take up the majority of his 2pm-6pm block on 98.5 this afternoon.
Perhaps next time he’ll think before unleashing a rant he obviously didn’t think through ahead of time.