TNT’s Ernie Johnson Opens Up About His Son’s Medical Struggles and Efforts to Protect Him From COVID-19

Longtime broadcaster gives emotional speech on the pandemic, sports, and his connection to both

Ernie Johnson

While Turner Sports is broadcasting an all-star golf tournament between a pair legendary golfers and NFL quarterbacks on Sunday, famed broadcaster Ernie Johnson will not be a part of the event. In an emotional address, he explained why.

At the start of TBS’ broadcast of “The Match,” Johnson spoke from his home that touched on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives, saying that, like so many, he has “wrestled with what’s safe, what’s wise, what’s cautious, amidst a chorus of voices.” He noted how our culture has tried to grapple with the global crisis by taking refuge in “the simple, the exotic and the legendary,” as the montage gave nod to docuseries like “Tiger King” and “The Last Dance,” which have dominated the public consciousness alongside the virus.

But for Johnson, the pandemic has been deeply personal. His son, Eric, has dealt with muscular dystrophy for years, and since 2011, he has required permanent use of a ventilator to breathe. He had been diagnosed with lung infections multiple times and would be at great risk of dying if he contracted COVID-19. For that reason, Johnson decided not to commentate on today’s charity golf game between Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.

“I would have loved to have been part of the broadcast team down there at Medalist today,” Johnson said. “I just didn’t think it was worth the risk of bringing in an unseen foe into our house.”

Johnson’s remarks sent his name trending on Twitter, earning him praise from sports fans and figures alike.

“In typical Ernie Johnson fashion, a terrific piece about what we are all going through,” golf analyst and teacher Peter Kostis tweeted. “No agenda. Just passion and perspective. Well done EJ.”

“Ernie Johnson is truly unmatched. Will never be another!” sports anchor Taylor Rooks added. “We’re lucky to have him on our screens and in our homes.”