ESPN’s Jeff Passan criticized for tweets about Hank Aaron
Hundreds of sports reporters paid tribute to Hank Aaron on Friday after hearing the news that the MLB legend has died, and Jeff Passan was among them. The ESPN insider regrets the way he went about it, however.
Passan sent a tweet about Aaron that called the one-time home run king a “true American hero.” He also tried to call attention to how Aaron was subject to racism in the deep south. Many were offended with the way Passan worded the tweet, as he said Hammerin’ Hank “ignored hate as he conquered baseball.”
The backlash led to Passan sending a follow-up in which he tried to explain why he used the word “ignored.”
“The use of ignored here was meant to convey Henry’s ability not (to) allow the awful things people said and did to shake him publicly,” Passan wrote. “That was a sliver of his reality and one I could’ve worded better. He endured hated, he fought hatred, he braved hatred. And he deserved none of it.”
That didn’t improve things for Passan. He was then ripped for referring to racism as a “sliver” of Aaron’s reality, and he decided to delete both tweets. You can see screenshots of them below:
The original tweet was deleted, but here's the screenshot, along with the reply in case that gets deleted, too. pic.twitter.com/dX8lJbJnA8
— Jen Ramos (they/dude/siya) (@jenmacramos) January 22, 2021
Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion was among those who ripped Passan. He called the tweets an example of “white people trying to wax poetically about racism.” Others said Passan was trying to minimize the role racism played in Aaron’s life and MLB career.
Passan eventually deleted the tweets and issued an apology. He included a link to two books about Aaron, one of which is the slugger’s autobiography.
Deleted bad tweets. Intention was noble, execution awful. I should have been better.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 22, 2021
It seems obvious that Passan’s intentions were good, but unfortunately he did not convey his thoughts the way he wanted to. Between the Aaron tweets and his animated feud with a radio host earlier in the week, it has been a rough few days for the MLB insider.