Rob Parker done at ESPN, but not before throwing the network under the bus

Busbee Jay
Yahoo! Sports Blogs

So Rob Parker isn't going to be asked back to ESPN's First Take, the Worldwide Leader announced Tuesday, thanks, in large part, to his inflammatory comments last month about rookie Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

In case you somehow missed Parker's original comments on Dec. 13, here's a refresher:

"I've talked to some people in Washington, D.C. Some people in [Griffin's] press conferences. Some people I've known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is ... is he a 'brother,' or is he a cornball 'brother?' He's not really ... he's black, 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 guy you'd want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancé, people talking about that he's a Republican ... there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Tiger Woods was like, 'I have black skin, but don't call me black.' People wondered about Tiger Woods early on – about him."

Parker's dismissal from ESPN comes days after his first interview following his 30-day suspension, when on WDIV's "Flashpoint" in Detroit he tossed the ESPN producers under the bus.

"[The show's producers] knew which way we were going and it was not off the cuff," Parker admitted on Flashpoint. "I don't know if [ESPN] enjoyed it. I think they were really hurt by the backlash that came from it. It wasn't meant in that vain at all. The people and the producers and everybody on the show, we just didn't think of it that way. We weren't trying to slam the kid; we were trying to tackle these issues."

Part of the reason for the intense backlash surrounding Parker's comments was these weren't exactly the issues on the minds of black people in relation to Griffin.

His relationship with his white fiancée, Rebecca Liddicoat, came to light during his junior season at Baylor in 2011. But after learning that she had been with Griffin through the good times (winning the Heisman Trophy) and the bad (tearing his ACL in 2009), it's hard to paint her as a gold-digger looking to cash in on her future husband's NFL payday.

(If marrying a white woman makes you less of a black male, I would love to see Parker let Ice-T know that and report back to me.)

Yeah, you can find people who still poke fun at Griffin's fashion sense (those socks in particular) or his out-of-date box braids hairstyle, but those qualities don't make RG3 "not one of us" or "kind of black."

Does it make him a cornball? It sure does. And you know what, that's quite OK.

We all know corny people in this world. We all have corny friends. I'll even be the first to admit that I'm a cornball brother. The word corny shouldn't be labeled as a code word for anything other than what it really is.

It's the narrow-minded, ignorant philosophy that one person can somehow be blacker than the next based on how they speak or if their pants are sagging or not that has ultimately divided the black community.

The beauty about sports is winning will make people look past any racial boundaries. Parker mentioned Tiger Woods in relation to black people having questions early on about him. You know what got people to quickly forget that Woods was checking "Cablinasian" in the race box?


And in his rookie season, Griffin proved to be a winner, transforming what's been an irrelevant franchise since the bandwagon year in 1991 into must-see TV every Sunday.

Discussing race in such a public forum like ESPN opens up the Pandora's Box of double standards. If this were Skip Bayless questioning RG3's blackness, would Parker be ready to have a discussion on the issue or would he be standing alongside Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the protest line outside the Bristol campus?

At the end of the day, your average ESPN viewer doesn't care if RG3 has a white girlfriend or if he's a Republican. They care about if he's truly better than fellow rookie QBs Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. They care about his ability to bounce back à la Adrian Peterson from an ACL injury in time for the start of the 2013 season. Those are the hard-hitting issues ESPN should stick to tackling instead of diving into race relations in this so-called post-racial world we're living in today.

Nobody is saying Parker and others can't have the discussion on whether Griffin and other black athletes are "sell outs." Like anything, there's a time and place to have such discussions. If Parker wanted to make the case that Griffin is somehow a "sell out," then by all means have that conversation at the barbershop. But spewing one's own misguided and uninformed agenda on the biggest sports network in the world? Wrong place, wrong time.

Those discussions have been happening for years and will continue on long after Griffin's NFL career. But there's a reason why a network hasn't decided to host a sports talk show from a barbershop. Not everything that's debated needs to happen in front of a camera for the world to see.

Fortunately for Parker, he has nothing but free time now to lead those hard-hitting race discussions at the local barbershop.

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