The liberty of the press is a blessing when we are inclined to write against others, and a calamity when we find ourselves overborne by the multitude of our assailants. — Samuel Johnson
*Rob Parker has done it once again. For the layperson among you, Parker is a sports journalist who frequently appears on ESPN’s First Take and can often be seen debating Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith in moderately funny exchanges over pre-selected sports topics on 1st and 10.
To be certain, I have never been a fan of Rob Parker’s work based upon his professional reasoning on the shows, and in his other endeavors as well. For example, Parker once erroneously reported then Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins had gotten into a fight with the Michigan State hockey team, and I have seen him force race onto issues that had absolutely nothing to do with race more times than I have fingers.
His attempts at humor in the past have been so putrid in character and content that it almost got him fired from the Detroit News. Following a Lions’ 42-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints Parker asked what is quite possibly the most unprofessional question ever uttered by a member of the sports media when he said this to then head coach Rod Marinelli regarding son-in-law and defensive coordinator Joe Barry “Don’t you wish your daughter had married a better defensive coordinator.”
Watching this individual stumble, fumble and babble his way around 1st and 10 is the price one has to pay for actually liking the show’s concept and most of its content. Though he has graced the fine academic halls of Columbia University, one of if not the top J-school in the country, Parker has broken or attempted to bend several major ethics statutes held in high journalistic regard. The Lions “joke,” then there’s the Cousins lie, and one can’t forget the audacity of him calling Hank Aaron a coward for not attending the game in which Barry Bonds shattered his home run record. These actions and words are those of a man who has the potential to do and say anything to draw attention to himself. A journalist isn’t ever supposed to make the story about him or herself. Yet, Parker does this habitually.
Parker has little regard for those crushed beneath the wheels of the runaway train that is his career. Unfortunately being a total ass is likely protected by the Constitution of the United States because what he did December 13 was about as asinine as you can get. He insinuated that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffith III was a “corn ball brother” and “not real” based upon a statement he (Griffin) had made at a press conference the day before.
“For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,” Griffin said. “You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I strive [for]. I am an African American, in America, and that will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”
When questioned further as to why the perfectly articulated statement of RG3 would bring his ire to rise by Skip Bayless et. al., Parker stumbled through his wording, perhaps realizing he had just stepped on a racial land mine of his own creation. Kaboom! There goes yet another hit to his credibility. “Okay he’s black, he kind of does the 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, like, the guy you really want to hang out with…” What in all the hell is that supposed to mean? What about the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? What about judging a man “(N)ot by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character”? Parker then was ignorant enough to admit that who Griffin was dating affected his opinion of him. Mr. Parker, what’s corny is a man who tries to squeeze every little non-existent drop of controversy out of a subject that he possibly can. Even if that means creating controversy solely for the sake of doing so. And it backfired on him yet again. Not unlike that silly Trix rabbit, some people just never learn. (Scroll down to watch Parker’s comments.)
So, Rob Parker, you’re now the King of Swag determining what’s cool and who “real” black guys would hang out with? The brothers I know wouldn’t hang out with someone with a nappy goatee and a hairline that looks deprived of a decade’s worth of edge ups. The brothers that I know don’t hang out with guys who wears suits that look purchased off a consignment shop rack, stuffed in a plastic bag and subsequently slept in prior to being worn on ESPN. All that ESPN money apparently isn’t good enough to buy him better duds. Perhaps Parker should let Stephen A. Smith teach him some fashion etiquette, but his journalism ethics would be another thing entirely. The nerve of him, a grown ass man, even verbalizing such a juvenile concept as what is “real.” Then he went on to further embarrass himself:
“There was all this talk about how he’s a Republican, which, I don’t really care, there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into 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.”
If you don’t really care about the ‘Republican’ thing then why even breath life into it on national television? The Tiger Woods comparison is a farce all together in that while Robert Griffin III clearly identified himself as being African American, Tiger went the ‘caublanasian’ route to the chagrin of many in the African American community. How could you lump an individual who identifies with the community that spawned you in the same category as an individual who is on record as not identifying with the community? I wish I understood your reasoning on that. The only similarities between the two, in my opinion, are their command of the English language, relative to your lack there of.
Later on ya boy Rob Parker was given the opportunity to clarify his previous statements:
“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said when asked if he were questioning RG3′s ‘blackness’. “We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest. And you can’t tell me that people in the barbershops or people that talk, they look at who your spouse is. They do.”
For him to reason upon what he assumes others are thinking is yet another example of his baffling journalistic incompetence. Though the hypothetical was vaguely implied his entire statement came off as nothing but opinion, and apparently his ESPN handlers feel the same way. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys later said that Parker’s comments “were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps.” Parker was suspended “until further notice” the following day. While I do not think Rob Parker should lose his job because of his actions I do believe a suspension is a fitting warning to Mr. Parker. Your First Amendment Rights cannot be limited by the Federal government or, as described by the 14 Amendment, the state. But as a cooperation ESPN doesn’t fall under either of those categories and can discipline employees as it sees fit. I’m sure Mr. Parker knew this before he kicked the door in on the racial argument yet again. If he did not then that’s all the more reason for him to be on a vacation even if only for having a short term memory problem.
EUR associate Ricardo Hazell is a journalist based in New York City. Contact him via: firstname.lastname@example.org