Earlier in the game, as a promotional preview of ABC's coverage of the NASCAR Chase for championship aired, a graphic listed the top five drivers in the Chase standings. When analyst Chris Spielman asked where the Colombian driver was, Griese quipped: "He's out having a taco."
As the broadcast came to a close, Griese apologized for the remark, saying "You know, he's one of the best drivers in NASCAR."
In a statement released later by ESPN, the network called the remark "inappropriate." "ESPN has spoken to Bob and he understands that his comment was uncalled for," the statement said.
During ESPN's Saturday night telecast of Florida and Mississippi State, Griese apologized further:
"Earlier today on our game I made an offensive comment regarding Juan Pablo Montoya as part of a NASCAR promo," he said by phone. "It was regrettable and I should not have said it. I really enjoy NASCAR and I follow it closely and would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Juan, NASCAR and everyone else who heard my comment."Bob Griese, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Miami Dolphins quarterback, shouldn't catch too much flak for the insensitive comment -- especially considering Griese has never slipped up like this before.
As Kyle Koster over at the Chicago Sun-Times blog noted, this also isn't the first time a television analyst made a south-of-the-border joke. When a portion of ESPN Deportes' play-by-play aired during a Monday Night Football game last season, Tony Kornheiser remarked: "I took high school Spanish and that either means 'nobody is going to touch him' or 'could you pick up my dry cleaning in the morning." He later offered a "100 percent apology" during the broadcast.
However, Griese's comment is a reminder of the scrutiny Montoya has endured since his NASCAR crossover in 2006. Not just because of his heritage, but due to the fact he represents diversity -- and ongoing change -- in the sport.
Montoya currently sits in sixth place in the standings, 195 points behind dominant leader Jimmie Johnson. There's no doubt Montoya is on the rise, with six Top-5 finishes this season, four of which have come over his last five races.