WFAN radio broadcaster Mike Francesa backtracked his criticism of Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine for being involved in a fatal shooting in Topeka, Kansas after learning more information about the shooting on Tuesday evening.
Francesa, who was initially speculative of the Washburn defensive back's character, acknowledged that the shooting that hospitalized Ballentine and resulted in the death of his friend and former teammate, Dwane Simmons, "wasn't his fault" after Simmons' father came out with new information about the shooting on Tuesday.
"The Giant player, the Giants drafted -- and we hadn't gotten any information on the story yet -- so the Giants turned out to be unlucky," Francesa said. "They didn't take a bad kid. It wasn't his fault. They just walked into a bad situation.
"So, that makes it even worse, to lose -- it was a terrible tragic event no matter what happened. The question was, what was the storyline? We didn't get it until today. Now we find out he and his friend had not done anything wrong. It's even more of a horrific story."
Mike Francesa has learned that Corey Ballentine, the Giants' sixth-round pick who got shot, is NOT a bad kid! We can now fully blame the shooter. 👍 pic.twitter.com/827qFP0epT- Ƒunhouse (@BackAftaThis) May 1, 2019
Francesa was judgemental at Ballentine for being involved in that type of situation the morning after the incident.
"Listen, you can have an off-field incident with any draft pick, any time, any team," he said. "But when you finish your draft and stress how you went out of your way to take the right kind of guys, the guys you want on the team, the guys who are gonna be great character guys, and you stress that as strongly as the Giants, it looks pretty bad when one of them gets shot on a Saturday night. It does not look good. It's just more of the same for the Giants -- they just can't get out of their own way."
Ballentine's father, Karl Vaughn, told the New York Post's Kate Sheehy that Ballentine is "the kid [Francesa] wished he had as a son."
"I tell you what," Vaughn added. "You can pick up every stone and every rock on the ground, and you won't find a smidge of dirt tied to that boy. ... He never had a discipline referral, never been suspended from school. He was an honor-roll student. ... He got called to the principal's office once in ninth grade -- and that was because somebody stepped on his feet and he turned around and said stop. Because he raised his voice at somebody. And I'm in the principal's office saying, 'Why am I here?'"
Francesa defended his words by calling into WFAN's morning show, "Boomer and Gio," and claimed they were being taken out of context.
Ballentine called Simmons' father, Navarro, after the incident to inform him of the shooting. Officers found Dwane dead when they arrived at the scene.
The Giants draft pick posted an emotional message to Twitter on Monday afternoon.
"I love you forever," he wrote. "Thank you for being a true friend who uplifted me, corrected me when I was in the wrong, and accepted my flaws. Thank you for being a brother to me. Thank you for letting me experience your life."