Last week, Rob Parker lowered the discourse on ESPN's "First Take" from where it stood orginally—somewhere around the ocean floor—to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. When talking Robert Griffin III, the ESPN personality took the discussion to a place that even Stephen A. Smith said he was "uncomfortable with," after he called RGIII, among other things, "a cornball brother."
"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."
Today, Parker apologized for the statement on his Twitter account:
“I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry. 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 ESPNer's apology is bullshit. Even after he began to catch heat for his "First Take" comments on Thursday, Parker spent the day RT'ing guys who called him "a real black man" and others who complimented his "realness," while arguing with anyone who Tweeted his disgust at the commentator, calling one viewer "uneducated." Shortly afterward, Parker was indefinitely suspended, he went radio silent for six days, and now he's making a desperate grab to save what's left of his career.
As a white guy, I'm not going to pretend like I have any authority on saying what constitutes "blackness" or any of the other complex racial issues at stake here. But I can say with some confidence that today Parker saw the writing on the wall when he made his apology. This wasn't some eye-opening realization he took six days to come to.
Now it'll be interesting to see if ESPN deems his disingenuous apology worthy enough to lift his suspension.