David J. Neal: ESPN shows hypocrisy by suspending Parker for insensitivity

12/18/2012 12:00 AM

12/18/2012 9:08 AM

Aw, naw, ESPN, you don’t get off that easy. You don’t just get to serve up Rob Parker as your network village idiot to mollify the pitchfork-and-torch wielding masses roused by Parker’s First Take ramblings on race and Robert Griffin III.

Suspending Parker just revealed you to be The Worldwide Leader in Hypocrisy.

For those immersed in other business the last few days, Parker enlightened the rest of us last week on why he was uncertain of the Washington rookie quarterback’s “blackness,” whether Griffin was “down with the cause” or “is he a brotha? Or is he a cornball brotha?”

The characteristics that brought forth Parker’s uncertainty: Griffin doesn’t want to be defined by being black or only compared to previous black quarterbacks; he apparently has a white fiancée; he might even (gasp!) vote Republican.

We’ll skip over the Bama level of thinking involved in Parker’s musings for now. ESPN reran First Take a couple of times before pulling it amidst ridicule of Parker on YouTube and social media. Then, they suspended Parker, the longtime Detroit Press columnist.

Which is pretty funny considering First Take’s the polar opposite of the subtle, elegant Roberta Flack album of the same name.

Several talking heads, usually led by Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith (both once more known for being good reporters), sling high-volume pronouncements on polarizing subjects in an attempt to snag a newsworthy sound bite. For most of the past 16 months, Tim Tebow was the default topic.

But Tebow’s invisibility this year and the Jets general irrelevance forced other topics onto the First Take crew. And so we get to last week’s discussion of Griffin, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner who also earned a degree from Baylor with a 3.67 GPA.

ESPN created the environment for Parker to wax so stupidly. And now they want to step back, let him catch all the hell and hope nobody bothers to give them some.

Aside from being exactly what the show foments — ignorant as Parker’s words are — I don’t want someone suspended for unpopular views. That’s as limiting as defining “blackness” by how you vote or the skin color of the person you love. We need those unpopular views stated, the politically incorrect voiced.

What Parker did counted as tired back before I had the family pattern baldness.

Gee, Griffin doesn’t want to be compared to just Warren Moon, Steve McNair or Donovan McNabb or have them be his only role models. That’s the kind of thinking more people, no matter gender, skin tone or religion, need to have. Why not wish to just emulate quality or be compared to the best, no matter what it looks like?

They just elected a black homecoming queen at Ole Miss — Ole Miss! — and Parker wants to say a fiancée of different skin tone is a “high yella” flag on RGIII’s blackness? Has he looked around these days? So-called mixed-race kids (like my daughter) are so common, somebody finally began making hair products for them.

Parker does give Griffin black man points for wearing braids, as if this were 1991 and braids weren’t mainstream.

So tired. Yet so perfect for First Take. Instead of suspension, ESPN, leave Parker in your rotation and let viewers dish out their suspension — ridicule, then changing the channel.

Join the Discussion

Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service