ESPN personality Rob Parker is a talking head on "First Take," which is a terrible show. It's the lowest common denominator on a network that features multiple programs devoted to people yelling at each other. And Parker is not exactly a bastion of fine journalism himself.
But Thursday, Parker took it to a new level while discussing Washington Redskins QB/sensation Robert Griffin III. Parker basically said Griffin is "distancing himself from black people" after the QB made comments how being African-American does not define him. Parker went on to criticize Griffin for having a white fiancee and for identifying politically as a Republican.
Parker's inane line of reasoning stems from an interview in USA Today, where Griffin said the following:
“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that…We always try to find similarities in life, no matter what it is so they’re going to try to put you in a box with other African-American quarterbacks – Vick, Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon…That’s the goal. Just to go out and not try to prove anybody wrong but just let your talents speak for themselves.”
The Big Lead pulled the best quotes from Parker's appearance on First Take today, and the money quote is this:
"It makes me wonder deeper about him. I’ve talked to some people in Washington D.C. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is he a brother or is he a cornball brother”
First and foremost, what does that even mean? Parker is questioning Griffin's level of blackness simply because Griffin doesn't want to be defined solely by his race. Parker said this: "We all know he has a white fiancee. People always talk about how he’s Republican. There’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue."
Honestly, what difference does it make? Does Griffin have to prove something to Rob Parker or the world at large about his race? Parker is insinuating that Griffin is rejecting his own skin color based on his love life or his voting record, which is insane and offensive. Nothing about him as a person affects the enjoyment we all get from watching him perform on the field. Obviously, that sentiment cuts both ways - he could be a terrible guy but great on the field, and we'd still like him all the same. Thankfully, he seems to be a pretty great guy and has been since his Baylor days. What is the point of taking a shot at him based on some innocuous and fairly correct comment.
The fun thing about RGIII, the thing that makes him so special already, is that he bears little resemblance to other players who have come before him. The lazy comparison is to equate Griffin with Mike Vick, or Warren Moon, and Griffin realizes that. But he's more accurate than Vick, more exciting than Daunte Culpepper or Donovan McNabb. Why not just let him be... RGIII, instead of constantly comparing him to other black quarterbacks that have preceded him in the NFL? In a sense, this is similar to the backlash Cam Newton faced earlier this year for his reaction to his team losing. Tom Brady is just as demonstrative on the field, and Jay Cutler is just as much of a "malcontent," but for some reason it seems like Newton endured weeks of bad press simply because he was mad after not playing well.
There is still a strange racial expectation attached to the quarterback position, and Griffin will most likely have to rail against it for the rest of his career. But for now, we should all sit back and enjoy the ride.
Watch the stupidity below.