BRISTOL, Conn. (CBSDC) – An ESPN commentator who questioned whether Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a “cornball brother” has been suspended.
ESPN’s Rob Parker’s comments on yesterday’s “First Take,” which questioned Griffin’s standing as a black man due to his white fiancée and the quarterback’s rumored Republican leanings, has led to the commentator’s suspension. Shortly after Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch broke the news of Parker’s suspension via Twitter, ESPN made a statement on the issue.
“Following yesterday’s comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice,” ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys tweeted. “We are conducting a full review.”
The suspension comes amid an uproar concerning Parker’s comments on the morning show that were directed at Griffin not for his on-field play, but for his standing in the black community.
“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 said yesterday. “He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the kind of guy you want to hang out with cause he’s off to something else.”
During the segment, Parker pointed out Griffin’s engagement to his white fiancée, Rebecca Liddicoat. Parker went on to speculate that the quarterback might be a Republican, but that Griffin’s braids added to the “authenticity” of being black.
“I want to find out about him,” Parker said about the rookie quarterback. “I don’t know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. Then there was all this talk about him being a Republican, which there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”
This is not the first time Parker has found himself in the middle of controversy. In 2007, Parker called Hank Aaron a “coward” because he wouldn’t attend the game in which Barry Bonds broke his all-time record for home runs. In Oct. 2008, Parker was suspended for two weeks by the Detroit News for inaccurately reporting that Kirk Cousins, a Michigan State quarterback at the time, was involved in a fight with members of the university’s hockey team. (Ironically, Cousins is now Griffin’s backup for the Redskins.) Three months after that, Parker resigned from the Detroit News after he asked then-Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli about Joe Barry, the coach’s son-in-law and defensive coordinator. Parker asked Marinelli whether the coach had wished his daughter had “married a better defensive coordinator.”
The Parker controversy came about after Griffin responded to a question in a press conference on Wednesday after practice about Martin Luther King, Jr.
“For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,” Griffin told reporters on Wednesday. “You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I’ve tried to go out and do.
“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”
On the field, Griffin’s status for Sunday’s game against Cleveland remains uncertain following an MCL sprain suffered on Sunday against Baltimore.