Rob Parker has been suspended by ESPN for 30 days for his racially charged and widely criticized commentary about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III during a recent episode of "First Take." Last week, Parker asked his co-panelists if the 22-year-old rookie was "a brother or is he a cornball brother" and went on to reference RG3's personal life and rumored political leanings as he cast doubts upon his authenticity and connection to the African-American community.
“Well, he’s black, he kind of does his thing. But he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us,” Parker replied to co-host Skip Bayless when asked to clarify his "cornball" comment. “He’s kind of black. But he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with because he’s off to do something else.”
The discussion immediately drew a backlash on social media. ESPN announced the following morning that Parker had been suspended "until further notice" and that a "full review" was in progress.
Further notice arrived on Thursday, one day after Parker issued an apology via Twitter and one week after the controversy began. The suspension was announced in a statement by Marcia Keegan, a VP of Production at ESPN who oversees "First Take."
"Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made," said Marcia Keegan, vice president of production for ESPN who oversees "First Take". "As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part. To address this, we have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel responsible for these failures.
"We will continue to discuss important issues in sports on "First Take," including race. Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on First Take. However, we believe what we have learned here and the steps we have taken will help us do all that better."
Is this suspension appropriate? Should the decision makers at "First Take" be held as responsible as Parker for encouraging this type of discussion?
In February, ESPN fired an editor responsible for publishing a racially insensitive headline about Jeremy Lin. In 2003, Rush Limbaugh resigned from an on-air position at ESPN shortly after making racially charged comments about another African-American quarterback, Donovan McNabb.
Is Parker's commentary different from those circumstances?