As Hill was just about to finish speaking to the group of 100-plus, Douglas came up to her, and demanded the microphone, even though he wasn't scheduled to speak at the event. He might have been slurring, and he was certainly talking loud enough for others to hear it. Hill said no thanks. She apparently had to make some effort to keep the mic out of his hands. Douglas was not happy, and neither were Hill and Smith. This was embarrassing.
As someone who was there to see (and photograph) the initial incident mentioned and pictured above -- and this is just my opinion of course -- I'd have to say Hugh Douglas definitely drunked himself out of a great post-football job as a television sports analyst, and no matter what brand of booze put him in Beast Mode, I'd bet a decent tailored suit that it just couldn't have been worth what's gotta be an awful hangover now.
Deadspin ran a story today on his firing, citing two anonymous sources who must have attended the same panel I did two weeks ago at NABJ 2013 in Orlando, when ESPN2 sports commentators Michael Smith and Jemele Hill hosted a seminar about podcasting and making their ESPN Radio show, His & Hers. Just prior to the end of a very informative and well-received talk from the two personalities, their executive producer and engineer, Hugh Douglas loudly enters the conference room, big, wobbly, and wearing a shirt much too young for a 6'2" former NFL defensive back. As he bumrushed the floor just prior to the end, making a gang of noise and visibly/audibly drunk, you could tell that Smith and Hill were trying to play it all off. Of course, he was in the midst of one of those grippy, grab-you-up-and-headlock-you drunks, and took it upon himself to handle a raffle drawing for tickets to a college classic football game this season. This was right around when he allegedly grabbed the microphone from Hill.
There's not a whole lot to say about this, other than it's a sad situation when a guy thinks it's a good idea to get drunk enough to embarrass himself in front of hundreds of working journalists. I'm honestly surprised that only two people spoke to the folks at Gawker Media (maybe more offered their witness accounts and Deadspin only needed a couple...), but perhaps that's a good thing -- the journalists had a conscience and didn't want to portray the guy in a bad light. Then again, it's more likely that this is the bigger problem -- when you enable an alcoholic long enough, they'll not only feel comfortable acting completely ridiculous in public, they might even believe it to be their civic duty to perform. That's why you see the town drunk dancing on the sidewalk, smiling all the way down the slow collapse into the gutter.
Hopefully this isn't the end of Douglas' career and he can look back at this later and say that this was the public lesson that he needed to learn before proceeding to the next level. Or at least I hope to not see him drunk at next year's NABJ and hear about him calling a pretty cool dude "Uncle Tom" and such.
Photo credits: Michael B. Jordan
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