Aug. 16 (UPI) — Many high-profile athletes criticized ESPN for running a fantasy football auction with very poor optics.
The auction draft was part of the network’s 28-hour fantasy football marathon, which ended Tuesday night.
A Twitter user uploaded a portion of the draft, which showed a man auctioning off Odell Beckham Jr. for the highest price in an audience filled with mostly white male bidders.
The New York Giants wide receiver responded on Twitter, simply saying: “speechless.”
Beckham wasn’t the only one offended.
Former NFL defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton tweeted the link to Beckham, saying: “Ummm @OBJ_3 what’s sup with this racist sketch.”
Stills also said that the “skits are trash.”
ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, who appeared on the marathon, explained that white players were also sold in the auction. He conceded that the segment had bad optics.
“Fam-The optics aren’t good-agreed. But it was replicating Fantasy Football auctions–whites up for bid too. We appreciate you,” Mayne wrote.
“Bum [expletive] ESPN running out of ideas….” Durant tweeted.
“Bad taste…In whatever context was intended,” Jordan tweeted.
ESPN apologized, defined auction drafts and also commented on the optics, which the network said could be “portrayed as offensive.”
“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,” the network said in a statement, CNN reported.
“Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”
There were more than 2 million fantasy football teams drafted during the 28-hour marathon, which began at 7 p.m. Monday and finished at 11 p.m. Tuesday.