Longtime Indianapolis Colts play-by-play announcer Bob Lamey received a loving retirement on Sunday. The team referred to him as the “Voice of the Colts” and owner Jim Irsay called him a “legend and icon.” Fans, journalists and former players paid tribute to a man who was widely seen as an irreplaceable chronicler of Colts history.
But behind the scenes, Lamey’s retirement reportedly might not have been so adoring.
According to a report from WTHR-TV, an Indianapolis NBC affiliate, The “Voice of the Colts” was accused of using a racial slur in a conversation with a black employee of an Indianapolis radio station following an interview last Tuesday, apparently re-telling a story verbatim in which a person used the n-word.
The employee said she was immediately offended, which Lamey seemed to pick up on rather quickly. He reportedly urged her to not tell anyone of the incident.
“He had asked me if the mics were off and I said, ‘Yeah, I turned everything off. You’re fine’,” the employee recalled. “Bob Lamey’s describing this person saying he was asked in an interview, ‘Do you think anyone’s holding back their speed at IMS during quals? Do you think anyone’s holding back?’ And that person had replied ‘There aren’t any ‘blank’ in this race.”
She says Lamey didn’t say “blank” in retelling that story.
“He said the ‘n-word,’ yeah. He thought it was OK to use that type of language at work. He was like, ‘Oh I’m so, so sorry. I’m so sorry if you’re offended by this. I didn’t mean to offend anyone’ and I was like ‘I’m black and I wouldn’t ever say that word’ and sort of just told him how it hurt me and how I don’t think he should say it ever, even if he’s telling a story,” the radio employee said. “Then once he saw my face and realized he had messed up he had started really like profusely apologizing saying, ‘Please don’t tell anybody.’ When I left, he said it again, ‘Please don’t tell anybody. Don’t mention this to anyone.’ I think he was apologizing so much because he knows it’s wrong and he knows that people lose their jobs for that.”
Per the report, the employee said she filed a complaint a day later with her human resources department, which was soon contacted by the Colts. According to WTHR, the team approached Lamey over the incident on Saturday and announced his retirement a day later on Sunday.
An interesting piece of news to go with that timeline is that Lamey had reportedly told WTHR columnist Bob Kravitz two weeks before his retirement that he wasn’t ready for retirement.
I spoke to bob lamey two weeks ago about how he wasn’t ready for retirement. Today, he retires. Haven’t heard yet from Bob, but I’ve been told the Seattle trip took a lot out of him and he decided he wasn’t ready to do the grind again.
— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) August 19, 2018
Lamey had been the Colts’ play-by-play announcer since the team moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984, with the exception of a three year period between 1992 and 1994. He was inducted into the Indiana Sports Broadcasters and Writers Hall of Fame in 2008.
The employee reportedly said she felt obligated to speak out once she saw Lamey wasn’t publicly reprimanded, but exalted during his retirement on Sunday.
“He told me ‘Don’t tell anybody,’ but he’s celebrated either way, so that’s hurtful. It’s hurtful to hear he should be in the Ring of Honor. No one who says that word should be in any Ring of Honor,” she said. “People need to know. If something like that happens, I feel like they should know.”
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