ESPN Analyst Rob Parker: Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III Not Really Black Since He Might Be Republican

Update 14:23. Rob Parker has been suspended for his offensive remarks.

During the Thursday edition of the ESPN show First Take, analyst Rob Parker  injected racial issues into the game as he took a bitter swipe at Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, criticizing him for being engaged to a white woman and possibly being one of those evil, nasty Republicans.

“Is he a brother or a cornball brother?” Parker said. “He’s not really one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with.”


Parker’s ignorant rant came in response to statements made by Griffin in recent days about how he does not wish to be defined solely by his race. On Wednesday at a news conference, the quarterback said he was aware of the attention being focused on him because he is black but that he wanted to be more than just a great black QB:

For me, you don't ever want to be defined by the color of your skin. You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I've tried to go out and do.

I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don't have to be defined by that.

Griffin was deliberately echoing the words of Martin Luther King but he was also repeating a sentiment he had expressed last week as well when asked about race on a Comcast special:

“Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special,” Griffin said. “I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.”

That type of positive and inspirational thinking apparently does not sit well with the race-obsessed Rob Parker. On the Thursday program, he attacked the Redskins star:

(Apologies for the poor video quality of above clip but it is the longest excerpt from the show that I've been able to find online.)

“I want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information at all [about that],” Parker said.

After revealing his own anti-Republican bigotry, Parker mentioned golf star Tiger Woods, who has said for decades that he should not be called “black” because he is actually of Asian, European, and African extraction:

“I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like ‘I don’t wanna, I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black.’ So people got a little wondering about Tiger Woods early on about him.”

Parker’s vicious personal attack on Griffin is reminiscent of the massive amount of bile that was unleashed by many black liberal Twitter users against actress Stacy Dash after she dared to endorse Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Like Griffin, Dash is also (partially) of African descent. Also like Griffin, she said she believed in King’s racial neutrality.

The ESPN commentator apparently finds such sentiments to be of little use since he described them with the word cornball, an adjective having nothing to do with race which is a synonym for sappy or goofy.

Perhaps realizing he had gone too far in condemning Griffin, Parker tried to partially walk back his comments, saying he was not questioning the football player’s racial identity.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said after fellow panelist Stephen A. Smith said he was “uncomfortable” analyzing someone’s “blackness.”

But Parker did not back down from his offensive remarks, using hypothetical discussions allegedly being had in black America as some sort of justification for his line of inquiry:

“We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest. And you can’t tell me that people in the barbershops or people that talk, they look at who your spouse is. They do. And they look at how you present yourself.”

As sports blogger Ty Duffy noted over at The Big Lead, Parker’s closing statement was evidence of his own racial bigotry:

Even if that is the case, that somehow makes it appropriate discourse for purportedly professional journalists on a television program? This is not First Take’s first time using race to inflame debate. It’s not the first time that tenor has led to an embarrassing on air incident. It is far from the first time Rob Parker has said something profoundly stupid.

Race is a societal construct. Pigeonholing an individual and ascribing certain characteristics said individual has or should have based on their skin color is racism. First Take is not only tolerating it. It is provoking it deliberately as part of a broader strategy to appeal to the “barbershop” demographic. Once merely a silly annoyance, this show has become repugnant.

Rob Parker is far from the only sports reporter or commentator to inject left-wing political opinions into sports. Just recently, NBC announcer Bob Costas spewed hatred against gun ownership, echoing the words of Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock who days later compared the National Rifle Association to the Ku Klux Klan.

Contrary to what many apolitical or conservative sports fans may wish to believe, the American sports media is overwhelmingly dominated by left-wing Democrats, something that veteran sports writer Buzz Bissinger attested to in October.

Full text of the rant is below:

ROB PARKER: This is an interesting topic. For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.

I understand the whole story of ‘I just want to be the best.’ Nobody’s out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You’re just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is that.

But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him. And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?

Asked to expand what he meant, Parker continued:

Well, he’s not really, ok he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, he’s in a—but he’s not really like the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to something else.

Asked why he would ask a question like that, Parker revealed his motivation was racial, with a dash of anti-Republican bigotry:

Well, because that’s just how I want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information at all [about that]. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like ‘I don’t wanna, I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black.’ So people got a little wondering about Tiger Woods early on about him.

Parker was then asked about Griffin’s trademark braids, a hairstyle almost never worn by people who are not of African descent and one that generally would be worn by someone who wants to “distance himself from black people:”

Now that’s different. To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like, I think he would have a clean cut if he was more straitlaced or not. Wearing braids is, you’re a brother, you’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013