ESPN released an apology after it aired a live version of a fantasy football auction in which the auctioneer held up placards featuring the faces of NFL players, some of whom were African-American. The “bidders” were mostly white men.
“Auction drafts are a common part of fantasy football, and ESPN’s segments replicated an auction draft with a diverse slate of top professional football players,” according to the statement. “Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”
One of the players who was up for “sale” in the auction was New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who expressed his displeasure on Twitter.
The auction came after deadly fights broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white supremacist rally to protest the removal of a confederate statue. While some viewers came to the defense of ESPN by explaining how the auction is a traditional part of fantasy football, other athletes weighed in on the tone deaf segment.