As I was driving into work this morning, the local sports talk station aired a segment about a recent ESPN First Take show in which Rob Parker dropped this:
I’ve talked to some people in Washington, D.C. Some people in [Griffin’s] press conferences. Some people I’ve known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is … is he a ‘brother,’ or is he a cornball ‘brother?’
Skip Bayless then asked, “What does that mean?” To which, Parker responded:
He’s not really … he’s black, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really like the guy you’d want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancé, people talking about that he’s a Republican … there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Tiger Woods was like, ‘I have black skin, but don’t call me black.’ People wondered about Tiger Woods early on — about him.
Stephen A. Smith, who is usually good for stirring up some controversy, was then asked on the show what he thought of the comment. He responded that he felt “very uncomfortable” with where the show just went.
To put this in a bit more context, the subject of the quotes is Robert Griffin III, the current star quarterback for the Washington Redskins. He was asked in an interview by local sportscaster, Chic Hernandez about the significance of being a successful African-American quarterback in the NFL. Griffin, in what I believe to be true to his nature and maturity, responded:
Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special. I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.
That percolated through the sports news industry prompting the segment on ESPN’s First Take. Ok, hardly a global news item and barely one nationally as I’m sure First Take doesn’t have a broad audience. But, as anyone knows who has read or learned about the inner workings of broadcast/cable television and in particular ESPN’s means and methods, this segment was thoroughly covered in pre-show meetings with the producers. This content, by and large, was approved and therefore carries ESPN’s blessing. While they have issued a statement saying that the comments were inappropriate, why were they allowed to be made at all? Why wasn’t the point of the segment Griffin’s comments themselves? That he is past the “color game” and looking to be the best quarterback. ESPN and the commentators that carried that segment could be lauded for communicating where we should be (and GorT believes is largely there already, especially in younger demographics) in that race (and gender, socio-economics, etc) shouldn’t be used to classify people and segregate out performance and capability. However, Democrats are doing it with the rich vs. middle class and poor argument. They subtly (or not so subtly – depending on your point of view) invoked several race and gender distinctions during the campaign.
So while Rob Parker has proven himself to be a jackass and ESPN has demonstrated its culpability in this matter, those out there that tacitly allow their candidate – particularly on the Democrat side as evidenced by the last election cycle – to invoke these types of distinctions, are culpable as well. People should stand strong and point out, just like Robert Griffin III did, that they don’t want to be considered the best (or worst) because of a racial, gender, or socio-economic categorization but rather on their own abilities and achievements.