Sunday saw TNT broadcast the setting showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. For The Match II, both golfers were joined by NFL greats and rivals Peyton Manning and Tom Brady at Medalist Golf Club. But before the showdown started, fans were introduced to the special by NBA on TNT mainstay Ernie Johnson.
Surprisingly, Johnson wasn't present on the course with his fellow colleagues. Instead, he introduced the game from his home, taking precautions from the coronavirus pandemic due to the at-risk loved ones in his life. While most praised the host and enjoyed the emotional introduction, some were critical of his choice to stay home and shared as much on social media.
For those unaware, Johnson's son Michael is battling muscular dystrophy with severe respiratory issues, according to Sporting News. Johnson made his decision to stay home out of concern for bringing COVID-19 home with him from the golf course, threatening his son's life. The introduction helped explain this and outline the current issues affecting many Americans under the current conditions.
"I would have loved to have been part of the broadcast team down there at Medalist today," Johnson told the audience. "But I have a 31-year-old son Michael, and for the last nine years, every breath he's taken has been with the aid of a ventilator. He gets lung infections all the time. I just didn't think it was worth the risk of bringing in an unseen foe into our house."
Just to add to the (appropriate) Ernie Johnson love pic.twitter.com/TyC5UQ8K1r— Connor Wilkins (@connor_wilkins) May 24, 2020
Many on social media loved the segment and rushed to praise Johnson on his decision, highlighting his past moments and spreading the love for the sports personality. It also managed to be the perfect way to set up the moment for the charity event.
Please scroll down to see how some reacted to Johnson's opening and defending him from those being critical.
Ernie Johnson's adult son has muscular dystrophy, has been on a ventilator for 9 years, and is especially susceptible to lung infections.
Go fvck yourself, you ignorant, moronic douchebag. https://t.co/NmLRVkfvx4— Polar Ginger (@PolarGinger) May 24, 2020
Ernie Johnson...One of few broadcasters whose voice and words can be calming...and tear-jerking 🥺😢May 24, 2020
That Ernie Johnson open pulled on all the heart strings. So real, so honest, and so relevant. #TheMatch— Alison Mastrangelo (@AlisonWSB) May 24, 2020
Ernie Johnson... absolutely LEGEND— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) May 24, 2020
grateful for folks like Ernie Johnson who can voice what so many are feeling in a way so few could.— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) May 24, 2020
Ernie Johnson is truly unmatched. Will never be another! We’re lucky to have him on our screens and in our homes.— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) May 24, 2020
That Ernie Johnson open was the best thing I’ve seen all year. #TheMatch— Kyle Keefe (@kylekeefetv) May 24, 2020
In typical Ernie Johnson @TurnerSportsEJ fashion, a terrific piece about what we are all going through. No agenda. Just passion and perspective. Well done EJ.— Peter Kostis (@peterjkostis) May 24, 2020
Man, that Ernie Johnson bit was so well-done and from the heart. Def where we needed to hear in this period. #TheMatch2— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) May 24, 2020