Rob Parker: ESPN Commentator's Racist RGIII Remarks Are Deserving of Suspension

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

Photo via Youtube.com
Photo via Youtube.com

After the racist remarks that Rob Parker made about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on the ESPN show First Take, he deserves the suspension that he has reportedly received, and should be off the air for a long time.

Sport's Illustrated's Richard Deitsch reported the news of Parker's suspension. The situation will be placed under a full review before the length of the suspension is determined.

Rob Parker has been suspended by ESPN "until further notice." ESPN says "we are conducting a full review."

— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) December 14, 2012

If ESPN wants to show that it takes these kinds of comments seriously, that suspension should be for a very long time. All things considered, he's lucky to still have a position with the company.

On Thursday's broadcast of First Take, Parker openly questioned Griffin's "blackness" (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk).

My question is, and it’s just a straight, honest question:  Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother...He’s not really. He’s black, he does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really like the kind of guy you really want to hang out with.

Parker didn't just stop there, he went on to call into question the "blackness" of many aspects of Griffin's personal life—including his fiancee and possible political affiliation.

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I want to find about him... I don’t know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, ‘I’ve got black skin, but don’t call me black.’ So people wondered about Tiger Woods.

For those that watch First Take on a regular basis, controversy is nothing new. The show is predicated on the debaters involved making controversial stands to drive up ratings and create intrigue.

The very mention of Skip Bayless alongside New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is sure to spark feverish debate over Bayless' merits as a journalist. However, Bayless' controversial stands on a situation like Tebow are fairly harmless. Fans of the show tune in to see that kind of debate.

Parker's comments aren't made in the same spirit. This is an attack on someone's personal life and identity as a black athlete.

For Parker to insinuate that Griffin III is not genuine to his own race by having a white fiancee and possibly being a Republican is the kind of stereotyping that has seen members of the sports journalism field fired before.

In February 2012—just 10 months ago—ESPN fired an employee and suspended another for a headline about Jeremy Lin that contained a racial slur.

Considering that Parker didn't just write a headline that may or may not have been an unfortunate and unintentional selection of words, he should receive a punishment that is equal or similar to what that ESPN employee received.

By all accounts, Griffin is an exceptional man and athlete. He has done nothing to the media to make anyone suspect otherwise. An attack on his character and personality such as the one that Parker unleashed is without warrant and reckless.

Taking controversial stands on ultimately trivial things is one thing. To bring such misguided racial questions to the forefront is quite another. ESPN must show that they are serious about attacking issues like this by giving Parker a serious suspension and not just a slap on the wrist.

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