ESPN has parted ways with Rob Parker, a commentator for the sports network who caused a national controversy by saying that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “not one of us” and only “kind of black” because he is engaged to a white woman and is rumored to be a Republican.
Parker made those comments on December 13 and was suspended by ESPN for 30 days. Parker apologized for his remarks but has since defended them by saying he was taken “out of context.”
ESPN’s vice president for PR, Mike Soltys, announced the decision to part ways with Parker last night on Twitter. He explicitly stated that the Griffin controversy was a factor in Parker’s termination.
“Rob Parker’s contract expired at year end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew.”
While it has been speculated that Parker’s recent defense of his racist tirade was what prompted ESPN to terminate its relationship with the loudmouth analyst, sports industry writer John Ourand reported yesterday citing a “source” that ESPN had already decided not to renew Parker’s contract before he had defended himself to a Detroit television station.
If true, this means that ESPN took the the safe legal route in its dealings with Parker. Because ESPN suspended him for the duration of his contract and then declined to re-up, Parker will not be able to sue the network for wrongful termination since he actually was not fired. The potential for a lawsuit seemed likely since Parker has stated that the producers for “First Take,” the show on which he formerly appeared, “for the most part” knew he was going to criticize Griffin in the manner that he did.
By simply declining to renew Parker’s contract, ESPN has managed to sidestep the argument that he was encouraged to say outrageous things by his co-workers.
For a full transcript of Parker’s rant against Griffin click here, you can also watch the video of it below: