Rob Parker, the ESPN commentator who was suspended for 30 says after questioning whether Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is authentically black because he has a white fiancee, says he was surprised by the backlash.
Parker said on Flashpoint on Channel 4 in Detroit that he didn’t expect the reaction he got.
“I can’t believe it, Parker said. I mean, looking back at some of the comments, I can see how some people can take it out of context and run with it, but the response, and what happened over the past 30 days and everything was just shocking,” Parker said.
For Parker to now suggest he was taken out of context is surprising, considering that Parker issued an apology three weeks ago. If Parker were simply taken out of context, he would have nothing to apologize for.
But Parker did apologize, and ESPN has also acknowledged that it was wrong not only to air Parker’s comments but to re-air them on Best of First Take later on the same day that Parker made the comments. The decision to re-air the comments and give them the “best of” seal of approval was not Parker’s, and Parker indicated that ESPN knew even before the program what he planned to say about Griffin.
Asked if ESPN producers knew what Parker would say about Griffin, Parker answered, “Yeah, for the most part.”
“I mean, we had a discussion — a pre-production meeting. Not every single word, but they knew which way we were going and it’s just not off the cuff, obviously,” Parker said.
And it’s the “embrace debate” format of ESPN First Take that Parker said is the reason the show succeeds. Parker said that such comments on a less popular show wouldn’t have yielded such a big controversy.
“It also shows how big and popular a show First Take is,” Parker said.
So while Parker may not be happy about his suspension, his comments show why ESPN likes the attention.