WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Shortly before Robert Griffin III led the Washington Redskins to the team’s first home playoff game in 13 years, an ESPN commentator who questioned the quarterback’s standing as a black man made his first on-air comments since his suspension.
Rob Parker, who was suspended last month for referring to the rookie quarterback as a “cornball brother” with possible Republican leanings, offered his first on-air interview since the incident on ESPN. In an interview with WDIV-TV in Detroit, Parker, a contributor for ESPN’s “First Take,” clarified that the controversial segment came from normal, everyday conversations that happen in the black community and was not intended to be directed at Griffin.
“It was just a conversation that’s had in the black community when athletes or famous entertainers or whatever push away from their people,” Parker said. “That’s what it’s about.”
Parker added: “The whole thing is, and I want to make this clear, I wasn’t saying he wasn’t being black enough. When people say that, it’s just not true. I was saying these are conversations that take place once a guy pushes away. It was never aimed at him, [nor] was I calling him that.”
Before the segment took place, Parker said the staff had gone over what he had planned on saying during a pre-production meeting. He said that the ESPN staff had an idea of where the conversation was going to go, but that it wasn’t meant to slam RGIII or be malicious.
“It was never to condemn the young man,” Parker said. “RGIII is a great, young man with a bright future.”
The on-air reflection came shortly before RGIII and the Redskins lost to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Griffin, who struggled for most of the game after re-aggravating a knee injury, sat out the fourth quarter as the Seahawks took a 24-14 playoff win at FedEx Field.
But off the field, Parker still can’t believe his comments created the uproar it did.
“Looking back on some of the comments, I can see where people can take it out of context and run with it,” he said, “but the response and what happened over the past 30 days is shocking.”