Rob Parker will be allowed to return to his job on ESPN’s “First Take” after serving a 30-day suspension for racially insensitive comments about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Richard Dietsch of SI.com reported the length of the suspension, which was handed down Friday, a day after Parker called RGIII a “cornball brother” and questioned his blackness because, among other reasons he cited, RGIII has a white fiancee on “First Take” the day before.
In a statement. Marcia Keegan, a vice-president of production, said that producers would take greater care with the debates on “First Take.”
“ESPN has decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days for his comments made on last Thursday’s episode of First Take,” Keegan said. “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. 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. We will continue to discuss important issues in sports on First Take, including race. Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on First Take. However, we believe what we have learned here and the steps we have taken will help us do all that better.”
Parker apologized Wednesday, writing on Twitter:
“I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry,” Parker wrote on Twitter. “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.”
The suspension is the same length as the one the network gave “SportsCenter” anchor Max Bretos last winter for asking about Jeremy Lin, then of the New York Knicks: “If there’s a chink in the armor, where can Lin improve his game?”