Rob Parker will no longer be embracing debate at ESPN. Nearly a month after the commentator earned a 30-day suspension for racially charged commentary about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III during an episode of "First Take," ESPN revealed on Tuesday that his contract had expired and would not be renewed.
During an episode of "First Take" in December, Parker asked his fellow panelists if RG3 "was a brother or a cornball brother." Parker went on to cite aspects of the 22-year-old rookie's personal life and his rumored political leanings as he questioned his authenticity and connection to the African-American community. Griffin had previously spoken with USA Today about race, with those quotes seeming to spark Parker's commentary.
"For me, you don't ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,'' Griffin had said previously, via Tom Corbett of USA Today Sports. "You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I've tried to go out and do."
Parker seemed to take these comments about transcending race as a repudiation by Griffin of 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.”
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The backlash to Parker's commentary was immediate on social media. The following day, ESPN announced an indefinite suspension and "full review." Despite initially defending his comments -- and insulting those on Twitter who disagreed -- Parker eventually apologized after his initial suspension. After conducting its review, ESPN announced a 30-day suspension of Parker. The most recent announcement makes clear that suspension included the remainder of the pundit's contract.
Not seeming to help his case, Parker appeared at times to be standing by his commentary during an uncomfortable interview with WDIV's Flashpoint in Detroit.
Source: ESPN made the decision to end its relationship with Rob Parker before his ClickOn Detroit interview was published.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 8, 2013
Whether or not the WDIV interview played a role in the decision, did ESPN make the right call to not bring Parker back?