Cable sports network ESPN has suspended its commentator Rob Parker following his offensive racial tirade against Washington Redskins player Robert Griffin III. In a segment on yesterday’s First Take program, Parker said that the rookie quarterback was “not one of us” and that he was only “kind of black” because he is engaged to a white woman, is rumored to be a Republican, and has spoken in favor of racial neutrality, sentiments that the sports analyst derided as “cornball.”
“Following yesterday’s comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice,” network spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement. “We are conducting a full review.”
Yesterday, the suspended-but-not-fired analyst made a number of negative remarks about Griffin, questioning whether or not he behaved and spoke the way that Parker appears to believe a black person should:
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? [...]
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. [...]
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 received an avalanche of criticism after the show on Twitter. Incredibly, he continued to defend his vile statements, describing one critic as “typical and uneducated” who probably did not even watch the video of his remarks. Thursday evening, he told another Twitter user to watch him address the topic again on Friday and Saturday. That did not happen, however, given his suspension. NBC Sports reported that First Take completely ignored the controversy.
Asked about Parker’s remarks, Robert Griffin II, the quarterback’s father declined to take offense:
“He needs to define what ‘one of us’ is. That guy needs to define that,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s racism. I would just say some people put things out there about people so they can stir things up.
“Robert is in really good shape on who he is, where he needs to get to in order to seek the goals he has in life ... so I don’t take offense.”
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association was not nearly as forgiving in an email he sent to the Washington Post:
“Robert can certainly take care of himself. Nonetheless, I hope that our men and for that matter, my own kids, will never beg for authenticity from someone who can only talk about the things that other people have the courage to do. People need to be held accountable for the offensive things that they say.”
Video of Parker’s rant is below. For transcript and our earlier report, click here.
This is not the first time Parker has gotten himself in trouble for saying stupid things. The Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate reported several other instances where he has put his foot in his mouth:
In 2007, Parker called Hank Aaron a “coward” because he wouldn’t attend the game in which Barry Bonds broke his all-time record for home runs. In Oct. 2008, Parker was suspended for two weeks by the Detroit News for inaccurately reporting that Kirk Cousins, a Michigan State quarterback at the time, was involved in a fight with members of the university’s hockey team. (Ironically, Cousins is now Griffin’s backup for the Redskins.) Three months after that, Parker resigned from the Detroit News after he asked then-Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli about Joe Barry, the coach’s son-in-law and defensive coordinator. Parker asked Marinelli whether the coach had wished his daughter had “married a better defensive coordinator.”