An ESPN spokesman called Rob Parker’s comments about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III “inappropriate” and said Thursday night that the network “is evaluating our next steps.”
Parker, in commentary on “First Take,” questioned RGIII’s blackness, asking, “Is he a brother or a cornball brother?”
The full transcript of Parker’s comments is on DC Sports Bog, but they came in reaction to an interview with Comcast SportsNet’s Chick Hernandez in which RGIII talked about his role as the leader of the Redskins and as an African-American.
“Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special,” Griffin said. “I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.
“But to the fans, and to the fans who think that way and look at me as an African American, it’s important that I succeed, not only for this team, but for them. Because it gives them that motivation, that hey, you know, an African American went out and played quarterback for my Washington Redskins. So I appreciate that; I don’t ever downplay anything like that. Whoever I can go out every week and motivate to do better and to try to go after their dreams, I’m up for that.”
Parker, via the Bog, said:
“This is an interesting topic,” Parker said. “For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.
“I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best,” Parker continued. “Nobody’s out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You’re just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that.
“But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him,” Parker went on. “And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
What does that mean, Parker was asked.
“Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us,” Parker explained. “He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”
Why is that your question, Parker was asked.
“Well, because I want to find out about him,” Parker said. “I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to 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 got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”
NBC’s Tony Dungy, a former NFL coach, said on Twitter that “ESPN’s Rob Parker may have [had] the worst commentary I have ever heard concerning Robert Griffin III. Not sure how ESPN can defend it!”
How will ESPN defend the comments? When Rush Limbaugh made racially-charged comments in 2003 about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb’s abilities, he was forced to step down from the network’s “Sunday Countdown,” a different type of show from “First Take.”
The father of RGIII told USA Today: “He needs to define what ‘one of us’ is. That guy needs to define that,” Robert Griffin II said. “I wouldn’t say it’s racism. I would just say some people put things out there about people so they can stir things up.
“Robert is in really good shape on who he is, where he needs to get to in order to seek the goals he has in life … so I don’t take offense.”