Schilling suspended by ESPN following controversial tweet

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BOSTON – Retired Red Sox ace Curt Schilling isn’t the first ESPN personality to get suspended for invoking Nazi Germany to make a point, although he broke new ground by being suspended for comparing said Nazis to extremist Muslims.

And he’s still talking about it.

Schilling, whose tweet last week comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis launched a social media firestorm, was subsequently removed from his ESPN assignment covering the Little League World Series “pending further consideration,” according to a statement released by the network.

Here’s Schilling’s tweet, which he later deleted:

Courtesy of Twitter

Courtesy of Twitter

ESPN announced Thursday that Schilling will not return to telecasts for the remainder of the MLB season.

He’s not the first ESPN employee to be disciplined for invoking Adolf Hitler.

In June of 2008, as the Boston Celtics were en-route to the franchise’s 17th championship, columnist Jemele Hill wrote an offbeat piece outlining her dislike of all things Celtics. Hill, who grew up in Detroit cheering for the rival Pistons, wrote that “rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim.”

ESPN suspended Hill for one week.

Schilling, however, released the tweet comparing Nazi Germany to extremist Muslims during his free time and on his own personal Twitter account. In addition, the former pitcher openly identifies himself as a conservative. Schilling’s history of speaking his mind via social media, no matter the sensitivity of the subject, is also well-documented.

Schilling hasn’t remained quiet. The latest twist in the Schilling saga is that he’s lashing back at his critics.

Schilling on Monday emailed a blogger at a popular sports website to defend his position.

Schilling appeared to be upset with the media’s narrative that he lumped all people of the Muslim faith with Nazis.

“Nowhere, ever, before, during or after, have I ever compared ‘Muslims’ to ‘Nazis,’ ever,” Schilling wrote.

Schilling went on to say that “normal every-day peace-loving Muslims have as much to do with “radical” as I do with “fleet afoot,” referencing his opening paragraph where the retired pitcher engaged in some self-deprecation by remarking on his aging physique.

Schilling later acknowledged that using social media as a forum for airing his views “was about as poor a choice as I could have made,” although he did not back down from his tweet’s intended message.

“To paraphrase, when a radical minority is opposed by a silent and weak majority, really, really bad stuff can, and has, and likely will again, happen,” Schilling wrote.

Schilling closed his email by asking that the conversation remain private and to “have this remain between us,” which of course, it didn’t.

As of Tuesday, ESPN has yet to announce whether Schilling will return to the network’s broadcasts.

There appears to be no established formula or criteria at ESPN to determine whether a suspension will lead to a firing, considering that:

— ESPN suspended broadcaster Mike Tirico for three months in 2006 after he was accused of sexual harassment while the network fired baseball analyst Harold Reynolds that same year after Reynolds was accused of allegedly committing the same transgression.

— ESPN suspended and later fired ESPN First Take commentator Rob Parker, who is black, after asking whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is also black, is a “a real brother or a cornball brother.” ESPN suspended college football broadcaster Bob Griese for one week for a remark he made about NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya, saying the driver was “out having a taco” when another broadcaster in the booth asked where Montoya was. Montoya is from Colombia.

— ESPN suspended SportsCenter anchor Max Bretos for 30 days in 2012 after he described the nine turnovers committed by Jeremy Lin, at the time an Asian guard for the NBA’s New York Knicks, as a “chink in the armor.” An editor for the network’s website was fired immediately after he used the same phrase in a headline accompanying the game story.

The situation gets muddled further when considering that ESPN has a history of not issuing suspensions to some of its personalities, even reporters charged with domestic abuse.

In February 2011, police in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, were dispatched to a local pizzeria after patrons reported seeing a man trying to choke a woman outside the restaurant. The man turned out to be ESPN reporter Howard Bryant, who was later arrested and charged with domestic assault. The woman was Bryant’s wife. She declined to press charges. Bryant served six months of probation, while his attorney claimed the arrest was racially motivated.

Contact Evan Lips at [email protected] or on Twitter at @evanmlips