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Ron ‘Sweet Baby’ Franklin sues ESPN over wrongful termination


Former ESPN play-by-play announcer Ron Franklin is suing ESPN for wrongful termination after an altercation between him and sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards promptly resulted in ESPN’s boot in Franklin’s you-know-where.

According to the initial report — via —  Franklin referred to Edwards as “sweet baby” before calling her an “a–hole”. Edwards then went to the broadcasting company’s higher management and Franklin was booted after an initial suspension.

In Travis County (TX) court documents, Franklin proclaims “the brief and innocuous personal conversation in no way constituted a `failure to fully perform (that’s what she said).'” The lawsuit also says that “ESPN and ABC disseminated false and inflated versions of the events.”

In other words …

Franklin is seeking compensatory damages, the amount of which is not known.

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22 Responses to “Ron ‘Sweet Baby’ Franklin sues ESPN over wrongful termination”
  1. Slim Charles says: Jan 19, 2011 1:00 PM

    Cue the political correctness crybabies whining about this old coot getting sent to the glue factory.

  2. mrcowpatty says: Jan 19, 2011 1:28 PM

    Sideline reporters report what? Garbage!!! “Hey coach, why are you losing?” DUH!!!

  3. BC says: Jan 19, 2011 1:55 PM

    If it was at-will employment, they can pretty much fire him any time they want.

  4. gamecockinfl says: Jan 19, 2011 6:08 PM

    This is stupid. He gets fired for what he SAYS to a colleague!?!?!? Maybe she should just cry

  5. jhorton83 says: Jan 19, 2011 7:42 PM

    gamecockinfl says:
    Jan 19, 2011 6:08 PM
    This is stupid. He gets fired for what he SAYS to a colleague!?!?!? Maybe she should just cry

    Uh, people get fired for what they say to colleagues all the time. You can’t just go around calling coworkers “sweet baby” and “a–hole”.

  6. Deb says: Jan 19, 2011 9:08 PM

    @jhorton83 …

    Why not??? If the old coot called me “sweet baby,” I’d have called him an old coot! Are women in the workforce soooo fragile now that when a man calls them “sweet baby,” they have to run to management for help? Oh my gosh!!! That is ridiculous!

    Have you read accounts of real sexual harassment? Women needed to go to work in mines and factories because they had no husbands, fathers, or brothers to put food on the table, so they had to take traditional male jobs. And their coworkers hounded them morning shift and evening shift. They put porn and dildoes and used condoms in their lockers, wrote obscenities on the walls, shoved them up against the walls and felt them up, and sometimes raped them. And threatened their lives. These women needed those jobs or their families would starve.

    I talked to a young woman not long ago who worked in a rinky-dink one-employer town. Her boss would not leave her alone and was stalking her outside work. She was afraid to report it to her company for fear of losing this minimum-wage job and afraid to tell her husband for fear that he’d do something to the boss and she’d lose this minimum-wage job.

    That’s sexual harassment.

    And Miss Priss is all a-tizzy because a guy called her “sweet baby”?????? She needs to be slapped! He should get his job back. You don’t fire an old coot for something stupid like that.

  7. Deb says: Jan 19, 2011 9:12 PM

    Look, real harassment means you’re being victimized so there should be some tangible evidence of your victimization. I’ve been there and went through channels and dealt with it. But it was a lot bigger than someone calling me “sweet baby” and I still didn’t ask for anyone to be fired. I asked for my interests to be protected.

  8. edgy says: Jan 19, 2011 10:36 PM

    Deb, his problem came because not only did he call her an asshole but this wasn’t the first time that he’s been accused of this kind of treatment. If he had expressed any kind of remorse instead of calling her a name, he’d most likely still have his job. One of the female bosses at my last job could take it from anyone and she didn’t take it serious but she did fire a guy for calling her a bitch and she really wasn’t.

  9. Deb says: Jan 19, 2011 10:54 PM

    My understanding was he called her “sweet baby” and when she wrote something complaining about it, he said she was an ass. And that is a far cry from “bitch.” He may be the biggest jerk in the world, but I’m tired of hearing women say they’ve been sexually harassed because a guy calls them “sweet cheeks” or says “I’m lonely. I have bad intentions.”

    Incidentally, if you are a boss and a guy calls you a “bitch,” that is insubordination, not sexual harassment. If your boss had been male and his employee had called him an SOB, he would have fired him just as fast. These are two entirely different subjects. My ire is for women who want it both ways. They want to be treated equally, but can’t have an argument with a colleague without claiming they’ve been violated by … “sweet baby”? :roll: I get my fair share of attention, and if you can’t handle something minor like that, sportscasting probably isn’t the field for you.

    Incidentally, are you actually giving me thumbs down after all that preaching, edge???

  10. edgy says: Jan 19, 2011 11:36 PM

    Deb, here are the events:

    As Gilmore, Cunningham and Franklin discussed the subject, Edwards tried to join the conversation.

    When she did, Franklin said to her, “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes.”

    Edwards responded to Franklin by saying, “don’t call me sweetcakes, I don’t like being talked to like that.”

    Franklin then said, “okay then, a–hole.”

    From sweetcakes to asshole – all within a few seconds. She went to managements after the meeting and if he had either apologized or just kept his mouth shut, he’d still be at ESPN (Please, read the article) but instead, he called her an asshole and that’s when his career at ESPN was over. He made a belated apology but it was too little, too insincere and too late. I like Ron Franklin but he brought it all on by himself. Read the article.

  11. Deb says: Jan 20, 2011 12:23 AM

    Now I’m cracking up. 😆 That’s straight out of the Real Housewives of New Jersey (well, we all have our embarrassing guilty pleasures).

    Theresa: “No, honey, I didn’t.”
    Danielle: “Don’t call me honey.”
    Theresa: “How about bitch? Is bitch better?”

    And then there was screaming, chasing, and hair-pulling. Was there screaming, chasing, and hair-pulling at ESPN?? 😯

    Okay … sorry …

    Yeah, he should have known better than to address a female colleague that way. Sounds personal. And sounds like he’s an arrogant bully so I won’t cry over him getting fired. Would I have handled it as she did? No, but I’m a different personality–a girly girl but had to speak up for myself in some intense situations when I was young, so talking back assertively to the big dogs doesn’t intimidate me. Still maintain that if she can’t command respect from male colleagues in that situation, don’t know how she’d expect to command it from male athletes. So she may be in the wrong business. These days it seems ESPN hires female reporters primarily for their looks, not their qualifications.

    From a management standpoint, it should have been handled with a reprimand, probation, and discussions with his supervisor about why he would think it was okay to speak that way to a female colleague. Termination was overkill, and I doubt it would have happened but for the publicity.

  12. scardino says: Jan 20, 2011 9:58 AM

    Franklin then said, “okay then, a-hole”.

    Edwards then replied, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

    Franklin responded, “What the hell are you talking about, love-muffin?”

    Franklin was then called to his boss’ office.

  13. edgy says: Jan 20, 2011 10:47 AM

    Deb, if a former star NFL player were to have a sex change and show up at ESPN, guys like Franklin would still treat them like crap. It’s not a matter of respect but a matter of how they grew up. Let’s face it, in Ron’s youth, he learned that women did certain things and that’s all they’re good for. Look at what they were talking about when this happened and even if you take away the “sweetcakes” comment out of that sentence, it was still meant as “Get back into the kitchen while the men discuss something you don’t know anything about.”

    Personally, I think that there are a lot of women at ESPN that have earned their stripes and guys like Franklin should respect the work they put in to get where they are (I’m not including the Catholic School Girl or Wendy Nicks because the former is a a prime example of someone who uses her looks to get her places and the latter is a moron who only knows what she reads off the teleprompter. On the other hand, Pam Ward, who is almost always on the Big 10 broadcasts on ESPN2, has worked her way from the sidelines into the booth and she does a great job and she prepares for her games as much as any man). I’ve heard some guys talk down these female sideline reporters but then they are strangely silent about some of the male morons that are even worse. The mere fact that they’re out there freezing their asses off while a guy like Franklin is in a heated booth DEMANDS respect from him, whether he means it or not.

    As I said, I like Ron but he went over the line. If he had apologized instead of calling her an asshole, he’d still be working at ESPN today.

  14. Deb says: Jan 20, 2011 2:46 PM

    edge …

    Transgenders are abused by people of both sexes and all ages. Doesn’t have anything to do with this discussion. Getting back to the topic at hand … yes, in Franklin’s case, it’s probably a generational thing. But are you going to fire every man of his generation who secretly believes women belong in the bedroom or kitchen? Know how many times that’s been posted to me on PFT? By people of varying ages? And you can force them to say the PC things, but their hostility will still emerge in how they work with you on assigment. That’s why you have to learn to command respect no matter what the men do.

    Read the article and still think it sounds as though he had some personal issue with Edwards. Also can’t help thinking why the other two guys didn’t speak up to try and de-escalate the situation. I agree he should have been reprimanded and put on probation and terminated if it happened again. But you can’t ditch every person whose thinking is antiquated. And women can’t always rely on someone else to run interference. Would have gone much further in trying to handle it myself before going to management … and definitely would not have taken it out of house to USA Today. Can’t believe she wasn’t fired for that.

  15. edgy says: Jan 20, 2011 3:43 PM

    Deb, what I meant was that they DIDN’T know that the player had had the operation and that they were even more knowledgeable than they were
    Secretly is one thing but PUBLICLY showing it is another. A good friend of mine is quite public that he doesn’t like Obama but quite private when it comes to his REAL reason (Publicly, his policies are too socialist but privately, it’s because he’s the n-word).

    Once he called her an asshole, any de-escalation wasn’t possible and since it went from sweetcakes to asshole from 0 to 6 seconds, there wasn’t much time for them to get involved until after the fact.

  16. Deb says: Jan 20, 2011 4:38 PM

    Not to venture into politics, but I suspect your friend is not the only person talking about socialism and thinking about race. In fact, I believe a lot of people are wigging out about the Red Scare but the intensity of their fear and anger is subconsciously influenced by their prejudices. And they genuinely may not realize it … or be able to admit it to themselves.

    When she walked up and he delivered that sweetcakes/boys line, you’d think a guy whose wife was just elected mayor would have immediately said, “Whoa! What are you doing?” before she even had time to say “Don’t call me sweetcakes.” Cat got their tongues?

    And I’m still on “Don’t call me sweetcakes” because that was not the first thing that went through my head. So what if he got to ass**** in six seconds? She had no comeback for that?

    Used to write publications for managers, including columns on harassment issues. Still say reprimand is your first step. If it happens again and she threatens to sue, your company needs to show you took appropriate steps to stop the behavior and provide a non-hostile work environment. Reprimand, probation, training does that. If it had happened before and been documented and he’d received prior warnings, then I understand the termination. But if it was part of a pattern of behavior that had never been addressed, the company didn’t handle it appropriately.

  17. edgy says: Jan 20, 2011 6:13 PM

    Deb, seriously, it wasn’t his first time, as the article stated. He had already got his first brush with Holly Rowe, though he didn’t call her a name (At least, not publicly).

    Whether she had a comeback or not is irrelevant and it certainly would have made it worse for all the women at ESPN because THEN if they did feel like they were being harassed, sexually or otherwise and they didn’t come back with a profanity laced tirade then they’d be dismissed as being too sensitive (It’s like people who piss and moan when a company like McDonald’s goes after someone who is selling a similarly named product. You might think that they’re going overboard but it’s the company’s responsibility to protect their patents OR risk losing them). It’s like people who think that black people are too sensitive when someone says the n-word. Their excuse used to be “Well, they call each other that so what’s the problem?” The problem with that thinking is that not every black man or woman called each other that and it was offensive. Common decency says that you don’t call a woman an asshole or whore or whatever to her face and she shouldn’t have to respond in kind just to prove that she’s got a pair or that she’s not overly sensitive. My advice for conduct in the work place is simple: treat every woman as if she’s your mother. Would you go around slapping your mother on her ass or grabbing her ass or calling her names? If you would then you should seek help.

  18. Deb says: Jan 20, 2011 9:05 PM

    edgy, you’re being insulting. And you’re deflecting and going over the top to try and win the point. Stop it. You can blather all that nonsense, but it doesn’t work with me.

    1. Must be reading the wrong article because mine said nothing about Holly Rowe or previous incidents. But it doesn’t matter. Unless a first incident is physical, the appropriate way to handle it is with a reprimand. If ESPN failed to reprimand the first incident, that is their failing. You don’t fire an employee without warning, unless you’ve previously indicated a specific offense is grounds for immediate termination.

    2. Where did I say anything about a profanity-laced tirade? An intelligent woman should be able to stand up for herself without delivering a profanity-laced tirade. That’s not my style.

    But no matter what ESPN policy directed, I would never let ANYONE speak to me that way then simply go to HR. That’s not my style either, and I don’t care if talking back cost MY job. Believe that or not, but I’ve been in those situations and my choice was to take an immediate stand–even when dealing with very high-level individuals. Once my position was in jeopardy and I had to request intervention, but suggested a simple alternative that achieved resolution without any self-serving public drama or termination.

    3. This isn’t about race and it certainly isn’t about sexual assault, so stop overreaching. I’m sick of women pretending being called asshole is equal to sexual assault. And it’s not equal to being called bitch or whore either. The latter have degrading sexual connotations that asshole doesn’t have. Though inappropriate, it’s something he could have just as easily have called a male colleague.

    I want to be treated with the respect commanded by my position, intellect, and skills–not the respect you give your mother. That, in itself, is sexist.

  19. edgy says: Jan 20, 2011 10:36 PM

    1. You are reading the wrong article and ESPN DID so they already crossed the bridge. It wasn’t his first time and I would venture that even the incident with Rowe wasn’t his first but it may be only the second that ESPN has publicly acknowledged. You have to understand that ESPN was notorious for covering up for their male employees’ sexual peccadilloes.

    2. That’s YOU. My sister will tell you this: when she was in Wisconsin, one of our cousins said something and as she’s apt to do down in Oklahoma, she gave her a gentle push and said, “No, you didn’t!” The cousin turned around and walked out the house and my sister had to go to her house to find out what happened and she was told by her that she didn’t appreciate being called a liar. Now, if you read those sentences again, you won’t see my sister calling her a liar but because they don’t talk that way there, she took it as it. In fact, another cousin got mad because my sister exclaimed, “Shut up!” after she said something that caught my sister by surprise. You are you and you react as you react. My sister would have made sure that Franklin couldn’t stand for a couple of days but that’s her. My mom would have started crying and wondered why someone would treat her that way.

    3. I hate to tell you this but it is appropriate. OPEN UP YOUR MIND. Now, I don’t get where you’re equating this with sexual assault. As far as I know, she complained about what he said and not that he sexually harassed or assaulted her. ESPN says that it was for his demeaning behavior so I don’t think that anything sexual was ever alleged.

    As for the last part, BALONEY. If you can’t give your female colleagues the same respect that you’d give your mom, you deserve everything that you get and if you think that it’s sexist then YOU have a problem. If more men treated their female colleagues like they did their moms, they wouldn’t have all this trouble (Unless they did all this to their mom and then they are a bunch of sick puppies). I can respect a woman and her position AND not treat her like a whore but there more than a few guys that can’t and that’s why you have harassment laws and lawsuits.

  20. Deb says: Jan 21, 2011 12:03 AM

    Good lord, edge, you are nuts. I’m not equating it with sexual assault. YOU are the one talking about sexual assault. YOU are the one saying something had to be done about Franklin calling a woman sweetcakes or else men would be grabbing asses. Do you even read what you write?

    Now, if you’ve read that he was previously reprimanded, then fine. He was reprimanded and didn’t heed the warning. Then probation or termination was an appropriate next step. Good. Fine. We’re done. Never said he shouldn’t be terminated if he’d been warned.

    Nice story about your sis if we were talking miscommunication, but we’re not. Yes, I know some people can’t speak up for themselves. I was one of them … sweet-faced girl from a very conservative family and a culture where girls grow up to be housewives. But I wanted something else and learned to speak up for myself because I was being crushed (and not because someone called me sweetcakes :roll: )

    I look every bit as girly as these on-air personalities and don’t stomp around like a truck driver … but I. Stand. My. Ground. Don’t know how else to put it. Found a coworker crying one day and she told me it was because no one took her seriously. I said I felt the same sometimes. She started hollering at me! “That’s not true–you make people take you seriously!” Never thought about it before that, but I understood what she was saying. But she learned to do the same. And she’s no truck driver either. If you can’t step up, stay home.

    Sexual harassment laws are for egregious violations and hostile work environments. You keep shifting between some guy making one idiotic condescending comment and men treating women like whores. Those two situations are not equal, nor am I suggesting that women should put up with a hostile work environment. I’m simply saying an adult woman needs to learn how to shut down one egomaniacal jackass.

  21. edgy says: Jan 21, 2011 10:24 AM

    Deb, you need to climb down and move your eyes up to the top of this page whee YOU started taking this there with jhorton83 and several times while talking to ME, you mentioned it. I talked more about Franklin going from sweetcakes to asshole in a matter of seconds. I also said that ESPN had a history of tolerating this crap from their male employees.

    Frankly, you can do what you want because that’s you but other women aren’t you and you can’t say “an adult woman needs to learn how to shut down one egomaniacal jackass” because they’re all different. Cultural differences can make enough differences that women will react differently. Having worked in large call centers with women of different races and ages, I can tell you that they DO react differently and when we had classes on harassment, some talked like you, other like my sister but MOST did not. Most of them have been told by their male counterparts that they need to lighten up or go with the flow or that’s how it works, here, baby.

    I’m also NOT shifting between one guy making a condescending statement. I’m going to end this now with a little advice for you: please research the history of ESPN and their male employees and their conduct toward the females at the station. You will understand why they are finally clamping down on these guys because they let them get away with a lot of shit there and Ron Franklin probably couldn’t help but notice that. It’s not an excuse but for years, the company allowed a hostile work environment to fester and now, they’ve had to tamp it down or else they risk losing a lot of money.

  22. Deb says: Jan 21, 2011 12:21 PM

    Okay, we’ll end in agreement …

    I’m very aware of ESPN’s culture … it’s why I rarely watch anymore although it seems a lot of women were willing participants. Nothing could persuade me to work there … ewww.

    Yes, I wrote about assault re mine & factory workers. I’ve been trying to stress the difference between a hostile work environment and an incidental comment. What you’ve been describing is a hostile work environment and yes companies must address that. It just seems that women who really need help get none while a few attention-seeking women make mountains of molehills. That’s all I was trying to say. And please don’t think I was defending Franklin. He sounds like a complete jackass who deserved what he got … even though I still think a woman of Edwards age, education, and position could have done a better job standing up for herself in the moment.

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