Rob Parker, a well-known Detroit journalist, was fired from ESPN on Tuesday morning. Mike Soltys, ESPN Vice President of Communications, tweeted:
” Rob Parker’s contract expired at year-end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew.”
Parker, while appearing on ESPN’s “First Take,” made a statement about Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III that included the question of whether or not Griffin III was “a brother or a cornball brother.” Although Parker was trying to make a point in his soliloquy that because he is a black man who dates a white woman, happens to be a republican, and has other non typical African-American characteristics, that people in the black community are asking exactly how “black” is he. However, his statements drew criticism from all corners of the media world, resulting in what was first an indefinite suspension, and later a 30-day suspension. You can see his original comments below.
According to sources, Parker believed he would have been returning to ESPN next week. He did provide Detroit’s WDIV Channel 4 news reporter Devin Scillian an interview on Sunday morning in which he tried to explain where he was coming from and what he meant by what he said.You can watch the entire Parker interview at clickondetroit.com (the segment begins at the 2:45 mark), but here are the highlighted quotes from Parker:
Q: I know it has been a whirlwind of a month for you, can you believe where this all went?
Parker: “No, I can’t believe it, looking back on some of the comments I can see where people would take it out of context with it and run with it, but the response and what happened over the past 30 days and everything was just shocking.”
Q: Do you wish you hadn’t said this or wish you said it differently?
Parker: “It was never to condemn the young man, RGIII is a great young man with a bright future. It was more about concerns, not condemning him.”
(On his quotes delivering a bit of “truth serum”…)
Parker: “It was just a conversation that’s had in the black community when athletes or famous entertainers or whatever push away from their people and that’s really what it’s about. You saw with O.J. Simpson and some other people when 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 on why people have pushed away.”
(On ESPN’s re-airing of Parker’s controversial comments…)
Parker: “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 be able to tackle these issues. The one thing I’m proud about being on that show, First Take, for the last six years is that we are willing to tackle a lot of stuff that most shows won’t even touch or even discuss. I think it’s important, I think we’ve done it in a really good way, but you know this is the first time we’ve been in hot water over dealing with such an issue.”
Q: These shows often look very off-the-cuff, but you guys go through a lot of prep work on all these shows. Didn’t everybody on the program know what you were going to say?
Parker: “We had a discussion inside, a pre-production meeting. Not every single word, but they knew which way we were going. It’s just not off-the-cuff, obviously.”
(On Parker questioning RGIII’s blackness…)
Parker: “I wasn’t saying that he wasn’t black enough. When people say that, it’s just not true. I was saying these are the conversations that take place once a guy pushes away. So it was never aimed at him or I was calling him that, I’m saying these are the conversations that take place.”
There’s honest, and then there’s brutally honest. And sometimes, I think it’s just best to keep your mouth shut. I’m sure Rob Parker is now learning that the hard way.