Doug Adler, the ESPN tennis analyst who was let go after describing Venus Williams’ “guerrilla” tennis tactics at the Australian Open, suffered a heart attack on Tuesday, and the stress from the firing and the backlash Adler received is largely to blame, Fox Sports Radio’s “Outkick the Coverage” reports.
“Outkick” host Clay Travis said that Adler called him from the hospital on Tuesday.
“He had a heart attack, nearly died,” Travis said. “Doctors say that the stress of ESPN firing him and being publicly branded a racist for something he did that wasn’t racist at all exacerbated his heart conditions and led him to have a heart attack.”
Adler drew widespread criticism on social media in January after describing Williams’ “guerrilla” style of playing. He was dropped by ESPN shortly thereafter.
In February, Adler sued ESPN, contending that the sports network “bowed to the Twitter universe of haters and those ignorant of tennis who thought [he] used the word ‘gorilla’ to describe Venus Williams that day.”
“ESPN wrongfully terminated Adler and has since caused other employers to shun Adler, causing Adler serious financial and emotional harm,” the lawsuit continues.
Adler’s attorney, David M. Ring of civil-rights firm Taylor & Ring, called ESPN “cowardly” in a statement provided to TheWrap.
“The irony is that Adler called everything correctly and in a professional manner, whereas ESPN did not — they recklessly made the wrong call,” Ring said. “It was not only political correctness gone overboard, but also a cowardly move that ruined a good man’s career.”