ATLANTA (CBSNewYork/AP) — The cast of an Atlanta sports radio show has been fired after mocking a former NFL player who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, a station official said Monday.
The show, “Mayhem in the AM,” was broadcast on 790 The Zone Monday morning. In a statement, general manager Rick Mack said the station regrets comments made about ex-New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason.
The 36-year-old suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS patients lose the ability to speak and move, which has happened to Gleason.
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS,” Mack said.
The station lists the hosts as Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino. But Mack didn’t give the names of those fired.
During the segment, two of the on-air personalities took a call from a third host who pretended to be Gleason by using a voice that sounded automated – mimicking another famous ALS patient, Stephen Hawking.
The host pretending to be Gleason told a series of jokes and eventually asked the two others to do him a favor by smothering him.
All three took to Twitter Monday evening to apologize to fans and others who criticized the segment. Listeners and critics turned to the station’s Facebook page to call for the hosts’ termination.
The Atlanta Falcons released a statement after the bit aired on its flagship station.
“The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning,” the team said. “The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion.”
Gleason wrote a guest column — typed with technology that tracks his eye movements — that was published Monday to Sports Illustrated’s website.
Gleason played for the Saints between 2000 and 2006. Team Gleason, an organization named after the former NFL player, is geared toward finding a cure for ALS, raising awareness of the disease and connecting patients to technology, equipment and services tailored to fit their needs.
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)