A day after ESPN and First Take personality Rob Parker apologized for comments he made questioning the "blackness" of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, ESPN suspended Parker for 30 days.
From Marcia Keegan, Vice President of Production for ESPN :
ESPN has decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days for his comments made on last Thursday's episode of First Take. Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made. As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part.
In essence, Parker asked of Griffin, "Is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?" and questioned "how black" Griffin was, citing his white fiance and rumors that the rookie quarterback was a Republican.
He also stated, "He's not real. He's black, he kind of does the thing. But he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us."
In Parker's apology, he noted, "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."
ESPN's reaction has been pretty swift in this instance, and while some may feel the punishment is light, it seems a fair enough response. Parker made an error in judgment for sure, and his comments were not only inappropriate but offensive.
But First Take is a show that encourages heated debate and controversial viewpoints. It would have been hypocritical of ESPN to dismiss Parker for stepping over the line that the show thrives by dancing upon.
In the press release, Keegan notes, "To address this, we have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel responsible for these failures."
This was an overall failure by First Take. If Parker had been the only one punished—or had been punished too severely—it would have been an unjust reaction by the Worldwide Leader.