Rob Parker didn’t think he was doing anything out of the ordinary last week when he questioned Robert Griffin III’s blackness for having a white fiancée. After all, race-baiting and mindless trolling is essentially what First Take -- the show on which Parker did his damage -- is all about.
Unfortunately for him, unlike Skip Bayless, Parker decided to direct his ire at a beloved sports figure. Bayless, to his credit, is all about the same sort of nonsense, but he is smart enough to go after polarizing figures so as to avoid offending everybody the way his much less experienced cohort did.
In case you missed it, here are the comments that landed Parker in so much trouble:
Shortly after he called RGIII a cornball brother, a wave of Twitter users began hounding Parker. They rightly pointed out that what he said was stupid, and correctly suggested that he would be disciplined.
Parker wasn’t on First Take “tomorrow.” Nor was he on the following Saturday. He instead got suspended indefinitely.
Today, in an obvious effort to save his job, Parker posted this apology:
I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry. I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care. This past Thursday I failed to do that. I believe the intended topic is a worthy one. Robert’s thoughts about being an African-American quarterback and the impact of his phenomenal success have been discussed in other media outlets, as well as among sports fans, particularly those in the African-American community.
The failure was in how I chose to discuss it on First Take, and in doing so, turned a productive conversation into a negative one. I regrettably introduced some points that I never should have and I completely understand the strong response to them, including ESPN’s reaction. Perhaps most importantly, the attention my words have brought to one of the best and brightest stars in all of sports is an unintended and troubling result. Robert Griffin III is a talented athlete who not only can do great things on the field, but off the field handles himself in a way we are all taught – with dignity, respect and pride. I’ve contacted his agent with hopes of apologizing to Robert directly.
As I reflect on this and move forward, I will take the time to consider how I can continue to tackle difficult, important topics in a much more thoughtful manner.
It’s not difficult to read between the lines and figure out what’s going on here. First Take would cut ties with Parker without hesitation if it were that easy. It isn’t.
The powers that be know that Parker didn’t do anything that Bayless hasn’t been doing for years, and if they terminate him for that, they may open up a whole different can of worms. Instead, they’re just waiting this thing out and hoping that people will be too preoccupied with the holidays to notice their cowardice.
Parker will be back on TV sooner rather than later. Unfortunately.