Posted 06/19/2013 at 01:14 PM
Update I: 790 The Zone has terminated the contracts of Shapiro, Cellino and Dimino. All three have issued sincere apologies via their respective twitter accounts. They have also reached out to Gleason's family and their apologies have been accepted by Gleason.
Update II: AwfulAnnouncing.com has the audio clip of this morning's moronic skit.
The below was originally published at BrianEdwardsSports.com on June 18.
Atlanta all-sports radio station 790 The Zone has suspended all three hosts -- Steak Shapiro, Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino -- of Mayhem in the AM indefinitely after they performed a skit this morning mocking former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS.
In the first game at the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina, Gleason made the game's big play by blocking a Falcons punt on Monday Night Football in 2006. By virtue of the play, one that is portrayed in a statue outside of the Superdome, Gleason has been a hero in the Big Easy for years. He has been courageously fighting ALS since 2011.
During his struggle, the Saints have honored Gleason on multiple occasions. I've yet to hear an audio clip of this morning's skit and as of the last half-hour, none was available via simple google search.
I lived in Atlanta from 1998-200 and 2003-2009, so I've been familiar with the work of Shapiro, Cellini and Dimino for more than a decade. Their show is four hours long and often gets away from sports with humor and conversation about food, movies, etc.
Dimino is the sports guy of the show. His knowledge of sports is nothing short of spectacular and he's a bulldog reporter who is always prepared. I've met Dimino several times and have always found him to be a nice guy.
Shapiro, who is the co-founder of 790 The Zone and was a part-owner of the station until selling his shares in 2010, is a native of Boston who went to school at Tulane. 'Steak' has been a household name in Atlanta for a long time. He has had documented run-ins with the likes of John Rocker and Imus.
Like Dimino, I've found Shapiro to be a good guy in meeting him several times at Hawks games. He went out of his way to chat me up at a bar 790 has an ownership stake in (STATS) while I was taking a break from co-hosting Steve Cofield's radio show (out of Vegas) that he was doing remote at Stats following the media scrum preceding UFC 88 at Philips Arena.
Cellini, the brother of Vince, who works for Turner Sports and was previously at The Golf Channel, is from Cleveland. Nick Cellini knows his sports when it comes to the Cleveland and Atlanta teams, but he's more known for bringing a little comedy to the table. Judging by his penchant for a few laughs and the fact that Cellini is the only one who has issued an apology so far via his twitter account, the guess here is that Cellini was probably behind the skit.
At best, it was an ill-timed attempt at humor. At worst, this could be a career-ender for Cellini. You just don't poke fun at anyone that has a serious health issue -- ever.
The backlash over the last few hours has been pretty bad and there's a link to this story on every sports website in the country right now.
That's not good for 790, which has Atlanta competitors in 680 The Fan and new CBS Sports radio shows on the FM dial.