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Because I generally try to stay away from issues of race on this blog for obvious reasons, I don't have much to say about the inappropriateness of what Rob Parker said this morning on First Take. But I do have a little.
In case you missed it, in a conversation with Stephen A. Smith this morning on First Take, ESPN's Rob Parker, a sports journalist who is a regular guest on the show, made several controversial statements about our own Robert Griffin III. The conversation itself began with a prompt about RGIII's recent answer to a question about race and the quarterback position. Since Parker's wikipedia entry contains a fairly complete synopsis of the events, I won't describe them any further than to say that you should read Parker's comments and come to your own conclusions before doing anything else.
Putting aside the fact that I believe RGIII's tenure at Baylor ended with me being legally obligated to hunt down and gladiator-fight anyone who criticizes him, my thoughts on this are pretty simple and should be self-evident: Rob Parker's comments are reprehensible and ESPN should be ashamed to have him representing their brand. The fact that they have already begun distancing themselves from his comments is proof enough that they realize the seriousness of the situation and how awful it makes them look. There's simply no excuse for anyone on the so-called "Worldwide Leader" to question whether Robert Griffin III is truly "one of us," as in truly an African American.
Beyond inappropriate, though, Parker's comments were fairly inexplicable. Robert Griffin III is an intelligent, well-spoken, successful athlete with untold potential both in and outside sports. He's never been in any type of legal trouble, is soon to be married to the woman he loves, and is by all accounts a perfect ambassador for his team, sport, and, as far as I can tell, race. Actually, he's the perfect ambassador for any race.
My point in all that is to say that I don't understand what about raises a "red flag" to Parker or anyone else. I don't see why it is an issue to him or anyone else who Griffin marries, how he votes (Parker mentioned RGIII's supposed Republican leanings), or, perhaps most importantly, how RGIII defines himself. None of those things should matter as long as he is a good father, husband, person, and player. Those things apparently aren't being questioned, so why is anything else? Further, why tear down someone so obviously getting it right? Isn't RGIII exactly the type of role model basically everyone can embrace? I know that if my son gets the chance to do so, I'd love nothing more than him growing up with RGIII as an example.
I say all this knowing that I'm coming from a different starting point than Parker in that I am not African American, and I certainly don't mean to be insensitive. I ask genuinely, though, because I just don't get it, and apparently I'm not alone: RGII (Robert's father) apparently wasn't pleased by the comments, and just about everything I can find (each word there is a link to a post or a tweet) agrees. Shoot, when your stupidity makes Stephen A. uncomfortable, I think you should reconsider your approach.
I don't often agree with Peter King, but I think his tweet just about sums up the general tenor of the response:
I am shocked at the Rob Parker quotes re RG3. Kid's trying to do everything the right way. Gets ripped for not being black enough. Lord.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) December 14, 2012
A friend of mine on twitter just said something incredibly astute that says just about everything I did much more succintly: if Robert Griffin III doesn't fit your cause, you should probably rethink the cause itself, not RGIII.