Even in the no-holds-barred world of Boston sports talk radio, this seemed pretty tasteless.
On Wednesday, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger and Massarotti host Michael Felger went on a long rant about former Phillies pitcher and two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay after he died Tuesday in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico.
Among other things, Felger repeatedly called Halladay a “moron” and an “idiot” and said the former MLB star “got what he deserved.”
“Weee! Weee! Yeah, man, look at the G-force on this! I’m Maverick,” Felger said, mocking Halladay. “Yeah, man, look at this, it’s so cool! And you die. Splat. And it’s over. So you’re that guy? You have to do that?
“Weee! Oh, look, I just landed on the water, everybody. I’m gonna tweet it! Splat. You’re dead. Two kids. Moron,” Felger continued.
Not surprisingly, Felger apologized for his comments when he opened Thursday's show.
"In a nutshell, I would say I feel bad about what happened on a lot of levels. I feel bad about what I said and how I conducted myself," Felger said. "To say it was insensitive or over the top is stating the obvious."
"I could come in and say, 'I apologize if I offended anyone,' but that's fake and hollow everyone hates that. The only folks I really want to extend that to are the loved ones of Halladay. They're the ones who are dealing with enough right now not to have me come over the top and do what I did yesterday. Sorry doesn't do it justice as it relates to them. That's going to stick with me a while as it relates to them.
"I meant part of what I said yesterday and a lot of what I said was just dumb hyperbole. There was stuff I did mean, but the presentation, the tone, and the hyperbole was just low-class, bad, not good. I don't feel good about it. I regret my conduct yesterday."
"The tone and the hysterics were really uncalled for."
Felger also attempted to clarify that the "he got what he deserved" line that drew such outrage was not actually in reference to Halladay, but instead to a hypothetical about if Felger himself were to die in a helicopter accident.
Felger’s on-air rant comes after TMZ posted a video taken by boaters who filmed Halladay’s amphibious plane flying up and down, getting close to the Gulf of Mexico minutes before crashing.
Tony Massarotti, Felger’s co-host, was largely silent during Felger’s rant but defended his on-air’s partner’s comments on Twitter following the release of the video.
“If you haven’t see the Halladay video, watch,” Massarotti wrote on Twitter following the online backlash over Felger’s comments. “And then try to tell me your thoughts haven’t changed.”
“I’m struggling like hell to understand what I saw in that video. Because it seems like somebody who was not taking care of their own well being,” 94.1 WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi said Thursday morning. “That’s what I saw.”
Chad Finn, a sports media columnist at the Boston Globe, said there is room to be critical of Halladay if the eye witness account is correct. But added, “ I would draw that line somewhere before saying he deserved to die.”
As my colleague Craig McCoy reported, Halladay’s plane, the Icon A5, has come under criticism for a marketing campaign that sold the craft as the ideal plane for new pilots, complete with videos showing it flying at low altitudes.
“Since the recreation-oriented plane first rolled out two years ago, only about 25 Icon A5s have taken to the air. Of those, three have crashed,” McCoy reported. “The last fatal crash killed the plane designer. The NTSB blamed the designer’s piloting and not his machine for the accident.
First rolled out in 2014, the fold-up plane is designed to be treated like an ATV, which can be towed easily to a lake where it can take off from the water.
“The way that a lot of people described it is a Jet Ski with wings,” Stephen Pope, editor-in-chief of Flying magazine, told The Associated Press. “It’s really a play thing.”
Arthur Wolk, a pilot and Philadelphia lawyer who specializes in air crash litigation, warned against jumping to conclusions about what the TMZ video showed.
“It’s normal for someone to be practicing approaches to land on the water even if you don’t touch down,” he told 6ABC.
A full NTSB investigation into Halladay’s fatal accident has begun and a preliminary report is expected in 7-10 days, an investigator told reporters on Wednesday.