ESPN commentator Rob Parker was suspended Friday after igniting a firestorm when he questioned whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a “real” black man.
Parker said Thursday on ESPN’s “First Take,” “Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?” Both men are African American.
“He’s not real. OK, he’s black, he kind of does the thing, but he’s not really down with the cause,” Parker said. “He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he’s off to something else.
“We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about how he’s a Republican … Tiger Woods was like, ‘I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black.’ “
ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said in a statement, “Following yesterday’s comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice. We are conducting a full review.”
Griffin’s father, Robert Griffin II, told USA Today that “he was baffled by the comments but wouldn’t fire back Thursday night, even though Parker’s remarks ignited the blogosphere and sparked angry social media responses,” Jim Corbett reported for USA Today.
“A few minutes later after his father spoke, Griffin III tweeted to supporters: ‘I’m thankful for a lot of things in life and one of those things is your support. Thank you.’ “
Parker’s comments have landed him in hot water before. In January 2009, Parker resigned as a sports columnist for the Detroit News after the criticism that followed asking losing Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli at a postgame news conference whether he wished his daughter had married “a better defensive coordinator.”