So… ESPN has to hold this L.
It’s fantasy football season, and NFL fans everywhere are scrambling to look up stats and put together a squad to beat their coworkers’ dream teams. But ESPN took things way left when it decided to have a live draft on TV and auction off some of the league’s best players on Monday (August 14).
The eerie setup featured a bunch of white people seated in front of an auctioneer’s podium, raising their hands to bid for mostly Black players.
“Next on the auction block we have Odell Beckham Jr.,” auctioneer Alan Wheeler says in a clip that went viral Monday night.
“Do I have $15? Fifteen … can I get 16? Sixteen …” Wheeler continued. Beckham would eventually be “sold” for $34 to a white man who was smiling from ear to ear.
Other Black players, including Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown were available for purchase. Not everyone being “sold” was Black —Tom Brady was also on the block— but the depiction is very similar to a scene from Get Out. And, you know, slavery.
Uproar soon erupted on social media.
Giants running back Odell Beckham Jr. responded to the auctioning off his athletic prowess:
Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant gave his two cents on Twitter too, saying that the sports media conglomerate is running out of ideas.
While fantasy football drafts are nothing new, they’re usually conducted among friends at draft parties or on computer screens—not on national television, essentially recreating slavery auctions of yesterday.
ESPN provided a statement to USA Today, apologizing for the draft: “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,” ESPN said in a statement Tuesday. “Without that context, we understand the optics could be portrayed as offensive, and we apologize.”