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ESPN Fires TV Host Rob Parker After Controversial Remarks About Robert Griffin III

by Sergio
January 8, 2013 5:50 PM
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Rob Parker

So in case you haven't heard, ESPN found itself at the center of a major controversy, back in mid-December, when one of their regular pundits and sports analysts, Rob Parker, made some negative comments on their daily morning show, First Take, about Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

On the show, Parker attacked a recent statement by Griffin saying, bascially, that he wanted to be known as a good quarterback and not just a good black quarterback - a statement which incensed Parker.

Parker responded on the show, saying about Griffin " he a brother or he is a cornball brother?"

He further went on to say: "Well he's black, he kind of 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 the guy you'd want to hang out with because he's off to do something else." (I will admit I don't understand what Parker meant by that last part of his statement)

Well, the backlash was immediate and quick, over Parker's comments, and he was suspended for 30 days by the network. However, yesterday Parker gave an interview to a local Detroit TV station to explain what he meant by his comments. 

He claimed that he had no intention of putting down Griffin and that his remarks were meant as: "...just a conversation that's had in the black community when athletes or famous entertainers or whatever push away from their people. That's really what it's about. You saw it with O.J. Simpson and some other people where they say 'Well I'm not black. I'm O.J.'  So it's more about that, not about RGIII and what's going on. It's more about this thing that we've battled for years and why people have pushed away from their people. It's more about that.

He also claimed that ESPN knew somewhat beforehand what he was going to say on the show: "We had a discussion inside. A pre-production meeting and not every single word, but they knew which way we were going and, I think, it's just not off the cuff, obviously."

However that wasn't enough for ESPN, who, today, fired Parker from the network. A official ESPN spokesman said that Rob Parker's "contract expired at year's end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew his deal."

But allow me a few questions...

From what I understand, Parker was well known for making controversial remarks, and that's the main reason why ESPN signed him in the first place. So why, all of a sudden, get all hot and bothered by what he says now?

Second, admittedly not being a sports fan in any way shape or form, and barely knowing any athletes, what did Griffin say or do to for Parker to go after him like that, aside from the "being the best quarterback" statetment? Is it a fair or a cheap shot?

And just exactly what or who defines what being black is?

Your comments if you please...

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  • MidNightDreamer | August 26, 2014 12:21 PMReply

    What qualifies a person being black besides their skin color?

  • Brother | January 10, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    I understand what Rob Parker was trying to say. It might not have came out right what he was saying is these black athletes get rich and famous and try and distance themselves as far away from the black community as possible unless it's to exploit the black community to sell some products. This has nothing to do with the way RGIII dress, who he is dating, or how he talks, this has to do with is he one of those black athletes that beleive you shouldn't look too black meaning supporting black causes, example did you see any athlete do a psa about the killings in Chicago, no because they agents tell them it might hurt their bottom line to be seen to be too black. If you listen to to what Rob Parker said, he said he wanted to know, he didn't say that it was his opinion that he came up with, he said he was asking people about him was he a cornball brother, meaning is he a brother who don't want to look too black and distance himself from the black community. Nobody saying he should be Ali or Jim brown but just going to poor black schools in his city talking to black poor kids about education, donating money to these schools in poor neighborhoods that need help and doing a psa about steering kids away from some of these obstacles they face would be good enough, giving kids hope they can do it and somebody cares.

  • Blackman | January 9, 2013 6:25 PMReply

    so Sergio is NOT a sportsfan but he is writing about a sports program? Man, this board gotta be filled with effete, demasculated types. On to the subject, Rob Paker got it RIGHT. RG3 is a Stone Sellout. Actually, his becky is fronting for him. Word in the lockerroom is that RG3 enjoys the masculine stylings of dudes. I generally agree with Everything Rob Parker says or have said on FirstTake. when he says, RG3 is NOT down with the cause - he is RIGHT. RG3 is trying desperately to be an ANTI-CAM NEWTON. lol. Joe Louis tried the same thing when he became heavyweight champion. He was the ANTI-JACK JOHNSON. But from the outside looking in, you can CLEARLY SEE who is living THEIR life and who is FAKING their life.

    Cam Newton ENJOYED his first season Free of injury. RG3 BROKE HIS KNEECAP on national television for the world to see. And got OUTPLAYED by the Black Rookie quarterback from Seattle that stomped the Redskins out.

    Jack Johnson enjoyed his entire life DOING HIM. and bedding white women on a day to day basis in the early part of this century. Can't you see jack johnson's and Cam Newton's smile?

    can you really see RG3 and Joe Louis' smiles?

    OF COURSE NOT, sellouts sells their SOULS!!!!

  • Carl | January 10, 2013 4:45 PM

    BLACKMAN...You are an ass clown.

  • Smoke | January 10, 2013 4:43 PM

    Cam isn't smiling as a member of a losing franchise after leaving the best conference in football the SEC for a bigger paycheck to be just another member of the 31 losing franchises every year. The NFL is full of suckers but RGIII isn't one of them. So what if he got a white bitch. Black, white, latino, or asian statistics say she is gonna take his money like all the untalented whores in history who have hitched their wagons to men who can bring home the bacon. That's basic human survival which is no different than an agent or campaign manager who are just debris caught in the orbit of a more significant body.

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 4:38 PM

    I question your legitimacy as a blackman. So where do you want to meet to settle this? By your logic you should win out if your the true black man? I promise anyone reading this that I will destroy you physically. Im a darkskin black man standing 6'5" weighing over 330lbs who played professional sports, who also graduated from the same school that Apple's CEO(Auburn) did in 3 years to his 4. I don't particularly care for white people. Mostly all adults in my family have college degrees and 84 year old grandmother has a certificate from UGA and she was born on a farm using an outhouse. Im from one of the blackest cities in this country Albany, GA written about by the likes of W.E.B. DuBois in Souls of Black Folks and had the highest crime rate in the state of GA for over 20 years of my life. You are not a real black man and we can prove it by your logic. Cam Newton fucked a white girl in my limo after he won the National Championship when took the players out. Might as well call what QT did Mandingo fighting and you as a clown is it's main proponent trying to pit RGIII against Cam. We don't have to choose we have RGIII, Cam, Josh Freeman, Russel Wilson, and many more than their ever were coming down the pipeline. To accomplish the things that so many before them with stellar collegiate careers weren't able achieve because racism and the either or mentality of many in the non-monolithic black community. Clown

  • willie dynamite | January 9, 2013 12:35 PMReply

    ESPN got it right this time, What Parker said and the context in which he said it was very unnecessary. It would have been more understandable if it were motivated by something RGIII did but it kind of came out of left field. Parker only continued to dig an even deeper hole for himself questioning if RGIII was "down for the cause, and that he wanted to know if he was a real brother." C'mon Man! Parker has been an idiot for a while so it was inevitable that he would "Plaxico" himself. I will miss seeing his atrocious suits though.

  • Kid chaos | January 9, 2013 12:17 AMReply

    Once again you are doing stories where you do no research.

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 4:16 PM

    But that would make him a journalist. He is a blogger.

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 11:30 PMReply

    chicago dan, that there are more buttons on your favorite suit jacket than the amount of fingers you have--hi de hi de ho

  • Miles Ellison | January 8, 2013 10:58 PMReply

    He should have been fired long before this. He's been an idiot for a long time, much like most of the talking heads on ESPN.

  • Andrew | January 8, 2013 8:42 PMReply

    It's simple, what Rob said was foolish. I watch ESPN a lot and the few times I see him his rants are rather silly.

  • JMac | January 8, 2013 8:33 PMReply

    I don't think Rob said anything that hasn't been said in barber shops, living rooms, front porches, etc... I got what he was trying to say and it would be a valid conversation in many black communities but ESPN was probably not the right forum to say it. The ones who wouldn't discuss it would feel shame over the conversation and the ones who would discuss it would hate that it's being publicized - esp. on a non-black network/show (i.e. white gaze). All that equals no support for RP. I don't know enough about the channel to say whether Rob's actions should subject him to termination. From the few times I've watched ESPN, I think it's safe to say that every "analyst" should just stick to discussing sports performance/strategy. Social commentary is not anyone's strong point over there.

  • CC | January 10, 2013 5:01 PM

    STOP IT TROY! -->"To me sports journalist are the epitome of cornballs black or white. They were waterboys in high school" Stop it! Most of the sports journalist on ESPN were elite professional athletes. Most of them were stars in their chosen sports. Also, you seem to be smelling your own upper lip. So what... you're overweight, a chaffer who went to college, and now you're noted for making silly statements. So tell us, if a person started at a junior college, that makes them what -- exactly -- in your opinion? Oh that's right, they're less than you who attended the same college as Apple's CEO, right? But wait, since you're a big black buck, did you happen to have an academic scholarship or a sports related one? Don't answer that, your words have spoken for you. So please, think first before showing all your blackness... you know, the hood in you.

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 4:14 PM

    The difference between OJ and RGIII is the space between their IQ levels. Plus many of y'all yester year black man would never stand out in a crowd of these young black man. Who are some of the biggest, fastest, strongest, most educated men in the history of the American black community and for that the world. OJ and his existence is completely systematic of not only the time he grew up in but where he was born. He is a junior college guy who made it to USC what is not nearly as stringent and prestigious as it is now. He is not and never was half the man RGIII is and will grow into. White bitches aside

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 4:09 PM

    In your opinion listening to Rob Parker would you consider him as a cornball brother. I guess I may think he is a cornball because Im from the South and played sports on the professional level. To me sports journalist are the epitome of cornballs black or white. They were waterboys in high school.

  • CareyCarey | January 9, 2013 12:02 PM

    Rocket, although you may not see a means to the madness, I believe you answered your own question. Conversation (gossip, or however you wish to define it) inspires more conversations which could result in "positive" solutions. And truth be told, a black person's social and political associations/affliations will always be a justifiable topic of debate (should we not discuss the mindset of black republicans or those who run from or are ashamed of their culture? Consequently, the word "valid", as it relates to this arugument is... well... valid.

  • Rocket | January 9, 2013 11:25 AM

    " would be a valid conversation in many black communities..."
    Why would RGIII's personal life be a valid conversation in any black community? Is funding for black schools in black neighborhoods going to be cut if Griffin marries his white girlfriend? Are graduation rates going to increase if he switches his political affiliation?
    Let's call barbershop conversations like this what they are: Gossip. Men do it too. And there is no reason to be overly concerned with who another man sleeps with, nor how he defines himself.

  • CareyCarey | January 9, 2013 9:10 AM

    JMac, once again I believe you killed this one. "it would be a valid conversation in many black communities but ESPN was probably not the right forum to say it. The ones who wouldn't discuss it would feel shame over the conversation and the ones who would discuss it would hate that it's being publicized - esp. on a non-black network/show (i.e. white gaze)". One could agree or disagree with Rob Parker's characterization of Robert Griffin III, but it is a conversation/discussion that takes place in many forums. Heck, as Mr. Parker alluded to, O.J. Simpson comes to mind. And who can forget Tiger Woods statements concerning his blackness and the resulting chatter from black folks. Not to mention all the conversations here at S&A on who's black and who's not. However, there is a place for social commentary on ESPN. When racial issues raises it's ugly head in sports, it is discussed, but it's a very slippery slope. For instance, those that follow sports may know what I am talking about when I mention the following names: Giants receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the right thigh (received 2 years in prison). Michael Vick vs. Tim Tebow. I am suggesting that they do have programs on ESPN that speak on racial issues. More importantly, ESPN has been a leading force in putting black faces in front of the camera. No network does it better. But again, one more time, I agree, Rob Parker made his move to soon... and in the wrong place.

  • FactChecker | January 8, 2013 8:17 PMReply

    His comments were completely inarticulate, that's first. And second, if he were white and had said something similar he would have been fired -- and we all know white sportscasters that have said some crazy shit about black athletes, while on air, in recent years. So, clearly, they couldn't, and didn't want to be seen as having a double standard on the issue. Which makes sense.

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 8:14 PMReply

    Sergio or anyone else..if you care to just look for the entire segment on the tube's about 16 minutes long. I tried to answer your questions at the end of article but unless you see/hear what was said, it won't make sense to you.--------------------

    YOU WILL CRINGE, though

  • janjan | January 8, 2013 8:10 PMReply

    Rob Parker is a sad and insecure person. Black people all have different experiences just like persons of another race. You cannot define a person by skin color but by the life they have experienced, the things that they have been exposed, their values, how they were raised, where they have traveled etc. It Rob Parker's life is so narrow that he cannot understand this or appreciate it, he is a fool, a sad archaic narrow-minded fool. I pity the fool.

  • lovesfilmnmusic | January 8, 2013 8:05 PMReply

    Parker is Captain of Team Dumbass. I get exactly what he was saying, but that's some shit you say in the company of friends. Not at work and DEFINITELY not on tv.

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 4:06 PM

    Having an opinion on what other people do behind closed doors makes you the negative usage of GAY.

  • CareyCarey | January 9, 2013 11:38 AM

    Chicago Dan, sometimes you make me smile. You don't make me laugh, you're not here to fuckin' amuse me, but it's funny how you conveniently tried to flip the script and feign innocence. Taint gonna work buddy. The only thing we've shared is living in the same state. Unlike you, I don't do pink toe nor do I embrace the thought of sleeping with another man. That's plan nasty and ugly... now what about you?

  • Chicago Dan | January 9, 2013 10:26 AM

    Ok . . . you outed me, CareyCarey. Why don't you tell them about you and me, and what we shared, so many years ago, darling.

  • CareyCarey | January 8, 2013 11:48 PM

    Are you sure about that, Chicago Dan? Like LOVESFILMNMUSIC, I said I understood Parker's objection, but I didn't say I condoned them. And then I questioned DAVYJC's remark. So if my remarks lead you to infer that GETTHESENETS and I are mascots, you're obviously a suck-ass who's married to a white women. Or you're the gay guy who has been teased and ostracized from the black community and thus can relate to the criticism and scorn of RG3. What is it?

  • Chicago Dan | January 8, 2013 8:17 PM

    And CareyCarey and GETTHESENETS are the mascots.

  • Richard | January 8, 2013 7:38 PMReply

    The part you left out was that he mentioned Griffin was married to a white woman. And how this has affected his membership with the Black community. I think that is grounds for a firing.

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 7:15 PMReply

    also----RG3 was just injured this weekend..might miss entire next season..he may not be "down for the cause" but he's definitely DOWN. ehehheeheh--since the show aired a few weeks ago... and most people forgot about it..can't help but note the timing of this fire.----RG3 is one of the new faces of the league..HIGHLY promoted..couple pf national ads.....plays for well known a premier division(NFC east)..on the east's politics...Parker didn't express and articulate whatever point he was trying to make and he sounded silly

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 4:01 PM

    He shouldve talked about why all the starting black QBs are in the NFC meaning that they will either cancel each other out or only one will stand in the superbowl only to be considered the dark horse candidate. Or why the only black QBs to make the playoffs were rookies.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | January 8, 2013 7:13 PMReply

    Parker's comments about RGIII crossed the line (and I'm a Cowboys fan for life). His other work on ESPN left much to be desired. So... this isn't a "high-tech lynching;" there are much more qualified analysts around who could sit in that seat. Regarding the picture above: Those Scarface-suit jacket lapels are grounds for termination in and of themselves.

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 7:21 PM

    But Adam, Parker is from to give him a pass for the Steve-Harvey-fied threads. That's pretty conservative for the "D" lady is from that area and I tease her mercilessly about the cab calloway suits they wear out there

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 7:09 PMReply

    I made a joke earlier on the blog about Glover" not being down for the cause" in the thread about new Black character being added to some random show(as the Black boyfriend to white lead star). This was the reference.-----

    not too many sports fans on S&A

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 3:58 PM

    Glover is definitely down for the cause. He is a true racial subversive if Ive ever heard one. The combination of his comedic writing, acting, and rap music speaks of someone not wanting to exploit cultural avenues but attacking the dissidents of a One World society.

  • davyjc | January 8, 2013 7:06 PMReply

    I find it so strange that if a black man speaks well, is multi racial in his thinking and just so happens to be spectacular on the field, he must also carry the water for every cause and everybody black. RGIII just needs to play. That's it. Not every black sports figure is Muhammad Ali or Jim Brown. I'm sure he's bright enough to take a stand on issues when he feels like it but until then, leave the guy alone.

  • CareyCarey | January 8, 2013 7:52 PM

    UT OH! I believe you're on to something GETTHESENETS. Did we just see DAVYJC show his hold cards? I mean, does a person of color say "it so strange that if a black man speaks well, is multi racial in his thinking... blah, blah, blah? Not to mention the "carry the water" line. Surely Davy knows that when we are noted for "speaking well" that it can be taken as an offensive remark. I mean, is that a "label" given to white folks? And, last I checked, Ali is a hero to all Americans, not just black folks. So Davy, what's really going on? Don't tell me you're all up in RB III's behind because he's connected to a white chick? I mean, he speaks well enough to have a white girlfriend, right? Oh... what... you didn't know he's OJ all the way? Anyway, I'm just think you're not a person of color... are you?

  • getthesenets | January 8, 2013 7:25 PM

    speaks well, "multi racial " in thinking? parkr didn't make his point well, but neither are you...
    "carry water"?....------are you a rush limbaugh listener?...EVERYBODY who listens to rush eventually starts using his catch phrases and lines...

  • CareyCarey | January 8, 2013 6:47 PMReply

    Without question, first and foremost, black entertainers, sportscasters and TV personalities are held to a "different' standard than their white counterparts. Now, throw in a "cultural" or "racial" issue in the mix... then white people (those in charge) don't know which way to turn. I, personally (although I don't know RBIII) understood exactly what Rob Parker was saying and I can safely assume many blacks do as well. But again, it's highly possible that the ESPN execs conferred with outside sources (organizations, people, politicians) to understand what affect Mr. Parker's statement would have on various entities. As Sergio mentioned, many more "controversial" statements have been made by sportscasters, black and white. Just this weekend Brent Musburger made a bonehead sexual remark that he was called on but not fired. Stephen A Smith ( a very popular black sports analyst) is arguably the most "controversial" and outspoken black man on the air, but there's a distinct difference between Musburger, Stephen A. Smith and Rob Parker. Musburger is white, Smith makes money for the network ( highly respected and very popular) and Mr. Parker is a relative nobody. So he's dispensable. He can be thrown to the wolves for all the "right" reasons and to appease and the "right" people. How dare he (Mr. Parker) upset the Redskin's apple cart and thus, by extension the NFL's money? How dare he (Mr. Parker) mess with Washington's money by questioning Robert Griffin III in the blackest city in the USA? And lord have mercy, O J Simpson and Robert Griffin III in the same sentence will have the NAACP and the KKK all up in arms. So, in my opinion, Mr Parker's comment was fair BUT ain't nothing fair about America or it's media outlets. The bottom line, as we so often see in the politics of the movie business, let no one convince you differently, this incident is all about money... and Mr. Rob Parker ain't calling no shots.

  • Troy | January 10, 2013 3:54 PM

    The conversation shouldnt be started by a cornball journalist. Only by someone with skin in the game. No weak journalist knows what it is like to actually fight for existence in the pantheon of sports. While they make a name for themselves discrediting others for things they could never come close to accomplishing. He is definitely a cornball brother but thinks he isn't cause he comes from Detroit, wears steve harvey suits, and beats on his black girlfriends. This is a clown S&A. RGIII has skin in the socioeconomic race game regardless if chose a side to fight for or not. His very existence as a black QB for the only team in the NFL to win a superbowl with a black QB means more than he wants it to. For his dreams of autonomy may get in the way for the cause of equality in a unjust world. His is assuredly in good company, a community that has done nothing for these guys seeks to attach themselves to their fame only to find out that just being true and black will not sustain their ambitions.

  • Joseph P | January 8, 2013 6:29 PMReply

    You keep referring to someone named "Griffith." Do you mean Robert Griffin? It was kind of confusing.

  • sergio | January 8, 2013 6:40 PM

    I said I know nothing about athletes

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