Former Philadelphia Flyers player Jeremy Roenick was fired from NBC Sports on Wednesday.
Roenick, an NHL analyst for NBC, was suspended on Dec. 23 for making sexual remarks during a podcast appearance on Barstool Sports about colleagues Kathyrn Tappen and Patrick Sharp.
Following the firing, Roenick took to Twitter, posting a video and calling the decision a “joke.”
The decision to fire Roenick comes 13 days after Penn National Gaming acquired a 36% stake in Barstool Sports for $163 million in cash and stock.
Under the agreement, Penn will be Barstool Sports’ exclusive gaming partner for up to 40 years and have sole rights to use the Barstool Sports brand for online and retail sports betting and online casino products.
Roenick’s suggestive remarks
On Barstool’s “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast, which went live on Dec. 19, Roenick talked about a trip to Portugal with his wife and co-worker Tappen. The story took a turn toward sexual innuendo when Roenick said:
“I was the king of Portugal,” Roenick said. “When you walk into every place and you have two blonde bombshells on each side… your chest pops out a lot more.”
Roenick said a woman approached him who asked if his wife and Tappen were both with him, and he said, “yes, they are.”
“And then Kathryn says, ‘Will you shut up?’ She starts yelling at me,” he continued. “I play it off like, you know, we’re going to bed together every night, the three of us. Now, if it really came to fruition, that would really be good, but it’s never going to happen.”
Later in the podcast, Roenick was asked if he would sleep with former Flyers teammate Sharp.
”He is so beautiful. I’d have to think about it if he asked me. I wouldn’t say no right away.”
On Dec. 24 Tappen released a statement:
“While Jeremy and I continue to be good friends, what he said was unacceptable, especially among workplace colleagues. I do not condone his comments.”
Barstool has since removed the episode of the podcast.
What’s next for Roenick
Roenick joined NBC Sports in 2010 as a studio analyst. At the last three Winter Olympics, he served as a men’s and women’s Olympic hockey studio analyst.
Roenick said in the video posted on Twitter that he is “very disappointed and angry.” He went on to express gratitude for the opportunity and thanked his supporters and hinted at a return to the booth:
“Even though I’m leaving NBC, I won’t be gone for long. I’ll be back better and more motivated to bring you the best entertainment and the best that I have for the game of hockey.”
The video posted by Roenick had 1.3 million views in its first 21 hours.
The irreverent Barstool Sports blog is headed by president Dave Portnoy. Barstool started in 2003 as a gambling and fantasy sports tip sheet. In 2007 it launched its website, which Portnoy called a “sports/smut” brand.
As a result, its content has incited a number of controversies, including a rape joke by Portnoy. The president and brand have also been accused of cyberbullying and sexual harassment, as reported by the Daily Beast.
Still, Penn National looks to leverage the wide reach of the Barstool brand, which Penn noted gets 66 million unique visitors monthly. It’s no secret that the fanbase matches the demographic Penn hopes to capture for its online sportsbook and casino products.
In the press release announcing the partnership, Jay Snowden, president and CEO of Penn National, said: “Barstool Sports is the ideal partner for Penn National and will enable us to attract a new, younger demographic, which will nicely complement our existing customer database.”
Can Penn National leverage customer base and avoid drama?
The first Barstool Sportsbook app won’t go live until August, most likely, but retail locations could start rolling out early this year.
In the meantime, Penn would likely prefer to keep contentious situations surrounding their newly acquired brand to a minimum, like that of Roenick’s firing.
It remains to be seen whether they get that wish. In all fairness, the Roenick comments on the Barstool podcast were made pre-Penn deal.