Sunday morning, hours before the Redskins playoff game, the suspended ESPN host talked exclusively with WDIV-TV’s Devin Scillian on the station’s weekly community affairs program ‘Flashpoint.’
Parker said his ‘cornball brother’ comments were taken out of context and admits he was “shocked” it received national attention:
“It was never to condemn the young man,” Parker told Scillian. “RGIII is a great young man with a bright future. It was more about concerns not condemning.”
“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 it with O.J. Simpson, and some other people, where 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 and why people have pushed away from their people. It’s more about that.”
Parker was sharply criticized by several sports blogs and media outlets for what many perceived as nothing more than cheap shots to a bright young star. Last month, after RGIII said he didn’t want to solely be defined by his race — Parker responded on ESPN 2′s First Take:
“But my question, which is just a straight honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
I called Parker’s comments “irresponsible.” Plenty of informal conversations ‘exist’ in barbershops, dinner tables and at the workplace. But if you’re just going to ‘put it out there,’ then you need to do it carefully and responsibly. And certainly not be shocked when your ‘I heard in the barbershop details’ attract criticism.
It’s ESPN. It’s a giant platform.
Parker was suspended six days later.
Many asked a simple question: “Why would Parker question RGIII’s blackness?’
Parker insists that was not his intent or overall point.
“I wasn’t saying that he wasn’t black enough,” Parker said. “And so 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.”
Someone should have the temerity to ask Parker how exactly RGIII is 'pushing away' from 'his people'.
Is it because he refuses to tie his identity to the color of his skin? Is it because he wants to be measured by the content of his character?
I think I would advise folks to push away from Rob Parker. We could start with ESPN.