Despite playing a vicious heel on WWE television, Kevin Owens takes pride in being a devoted father off-camera, and has even mentioned his 8-year-old son in some of his promos, particularly those where he felt offended (in storyline) that the boy likes John Cena. But it was no laughing matter when ESPN basketball analyst Amin Elhassan tweeted an offensive joke about Owens’ son not realizing that pro Wrestling is, as just about every teenage and adult fan knows and accepts, predetermined. And while Elhassan tweeted an official apology earlier today, his actions in the days prior firmly put him in company with the likes of Colin Cowherd, Conor McGregor, and Joe Rogan as known detractors of wrestling, may it be the current product or sports entertainment in general.

How the Elhassan-Owens controversy started, and how the wrestling world reacted

On Wednesday, Elhassan responded to a tweet with an image of Owens’ young son looking emotional after his father had won the WWE Universal Championship on this week’s Monday Night RAW. In the tweet, he remarked that the boy was “overwhelmed” by the moment, “until someone told him (wrestling) was scripted.” This had triggered a firestorm of negative comments from wrestling fans, as well as some past and present wrestlers.

For one, WWE legend and current RAW general manager Mick Foley said he felt “sick and angry” over the tweet, and felt that ESPN should apologize for its employee’s uncalled-for remark. Cody Rhodes, who was released by WWE earlier this year, asked his followers not to “make him a thing,” as Elhassan wasn’t a household name for wrestling fans before he decided to pick on Owens’ son.

And ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman, who had once worked for WWE as an announcer, took offense to his own colleague’s statements, saying he thought Elhassan “was better” than what he had showed, and that he “can’t appreciate real emotion.”

Elhassan apologizes, but not before provoking more fans

Earlier today, Elhassan took to Twitter to apologize for the joke, saying that he realized it was “in poor taste” and that he is “sincerely” sorry for offending Kevin Owens and his family.

But that came after he had been combative with fans who took offense to the original tweet.

One egregious example came when a Twitter user said that Owens’ son is autistic. Elhassan then replied, asking if the user was referring to the “wrestler or the kid,” and adding that most children aged eight, autistic or not, don’t realize wrestling is scripted.

And prior to today’s apology, he also had repeatedly refused to back down from his stance, despite the backlash from fans and requests for him to apologize.

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