Remember when ESPN New York writer Rob Parker started a social media firestorm last year for writing an article on why Atlanta Falcons fans didn't deserve a playoff win, claiming they were the worst in the league (even though he used zero statistical data except for attendance numbers that showed Atlanta in the middle of the pack in all three sports)?
He might have outdone himself on Thursday, as hard as it is to imagine that someone who became known by a fanbase as the least credible sports columnist in America because he wouldn't bother to look both ways before writing a piece or dropping lines on network television.
In ESPN show First Take, which features controversial Steven A. Smith and Skip Bayless,—both of whom have their own track record for making ridiculous claims—Parker raised the question NFL fans around the nation have been waiting to hear for weeks (h/t USA Today).
"Is Robert Griffin III a brother or a cornball brother?"
If you aren't familiar with the term cornball brother, allow me to fill you in.
Just kidding. Why would I lie to you?
Parker essentially put himself at the podium without having a clue of what he was about to say, which led him to some of the most ridiculously forced attempts at justifiable discussion of race in sports.
"We all know he has a white fiancee. There was all of this talk about he's Republican, which, I don't really care, there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue," Parker said.
Well, that doesn't make a generalization about white Americans at all. Pot calling the kettle black?
We can get to the mumbo-jumbo of the text in a line or two, but first it should be known Griffin III's "issue," if that, stemmed from a topic brought up by the fact he didn't want race to define him as a professional.
Of course, the talking heads on ESPN First Take have always, for one reason to the next, found excuses to turn everything and anything into a race issue to fuel their fire for the viewers. That's okay when you actually have something substantial to say.
Heck, if you can back up your arguments, I don't have a problem with you stooping to a race conversation every week.
But, Parker fails to articulate one sentence in his statements that make a lick of sense. He continued to bring up Tiger Woods, seemingly correlating black men with white wives and the ability to articulate as a cause for concern among some proverbial black-union.
"He's not real. Ok, he's black, he kind of does the thing, but he's not really down with the cause," Parker said. "He's kind of black, but he's not really the guy you want to hang out with because he's off to something else."
Wait a second? This doesn't even pertain to just sports. Was Parker saying there was something anti-black about the way Robert Griffin III carries himself? Is he saying that because Griffin III has a white wife and doesn't want to be defined by skin color means he's less of a black man?
What year is this? Nineteen negative forty five?
Seemingly so, and now give me a few minutes to leave the computer and hurl.
Parker is trying to force the race discussion in so he can go on some soapbox about the art of being a black athlete because the average population simply doesn't understand it as much as he does. We get it.
But, what Parker did here in trying to, for lack of a better word, defend what it means to be a black quarterback, he instead butchered the conversation and made comments that not only offended Smith--a black journalist who's been a staple of entertainment at ESPN for years--but set back black-athlete perception 20 years.
Griffin III has it right. Why should he be defined by the color of his skin? A justifiable conversation to have is that Griffin III is most definitely ushering a brighter chapter in the story book of black quarterbacks in the NFL.
Donovan McNabb, in my opinion, always fell under more criticism because of his skin color. Michael Vick appeared to be another star to break the mold, but killed that would-be bestseller by getting caught in a major criminal blunder.
Griffin III, to this point, is the answer. He's answering the question of, "Can a black quarterback make it?" People, unfortunately, still ask that question. Griffin III will give them reasons to finally shut the door on the topic. He's putting up great numbers, showing off awesome athleticism, revolutionizing the way offense is played in the NFL (which is, what I have dubbed, the 'Tomahawk Offense').
Are Parker's comments out of line?
But, Griffin III's comments about not wanting race to define who is answers a question we may not have asked yet. That is, can we, in fact, actually put the black-quarterback discussion to rest?
It's 2012 people.
Parker could have articulated these things, but instead offered that Griffin III's charisma and lifestyle is a slap in the face of the pride he should have in being a black man.
No, Griffin definitely has pride. But, his pride resides in the fact that he can be a black man and prove that boundary or barrier is now nothing but fiction.
Look, he deserves all of the credit for being a black quarterback that can play at the highest level possible (even though we saw Doug Williams do that years ago, but ignorance is born into every generation). But, he also deserves the nod when he says that discussion is moot. Those two things, together, is the formula for progress.
That's a microcosm of the progress of equality that pushes our country towards a better understanding and appreciation for what it truly means to succeed in this free country--to break barriers.
Parker not only decided to try to put this barrier up, but he did it with completely un-found and embarrassingly spotty articulation.
He was obviously trying to get a raise, rather than actually having anything credible to say. Anyone who finds Parker's words as credible in any form are confused.
As a journalist, I've taken offense to the fact Parker, once again, bypassed reason and used his platform at the World Wide Leader of Sports to cause a social media raucous, rather than speak about truths that matter.
You can cause a raucous all you want as long as you defend it with at least some sort of substance. But, to have such an agenda that you spew out crap without even having the ability to articulate a defense is embarrassing.
To do it on that stage is a slap in the face of prospective professionals like me and other writers around the country that have to put up with sheer ignorance on the center stage.
I guess I'll define cornball for the readers. It means an awful excuse for a journalist.
Dear Mr. Parker,
You're a cornball.