Rob Parker, the ESPN analyst who caused a firestorm when he question whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a “cornball brother” a week ago, did not get fired, as many speculated. Instead, he was suspended for 30 days, ESPN announced Thursday.
Meanwhile, the subject of Parker’s misguided comments, Griffin, was cleared to return to the Redskins’ lineup Sunday when they face the Philadelphia Eagles in a critical game for them in their push to make the playoffs.
“I like what I see,” coach Mike Shanahan said of Griffin Thursday after practice. “If there is no setback, he should be ready to go.”
Griffin missed the end of Washington’s overtime win against Baltimore two weeks ago and Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns with a sprained right knee. He had his first full practice since the injury on Wednesday and moved freely, without pain. And there was no swelling or soreness on Thursday, clearing the way for a re-entry into the lineup., and coaches and doctors were eager to see how the knee would respond.
Parker responded to the vast public outcry about his comments by contacting Griffin’s agent and hopes to directly apologize to Griffin. He issued an apology on Twitter, too.
On First Take, Parker, who is black, questioned Griffin’s “blackness,” citing that the player has a white fiancée and is rumored to be Republican.
Among his comments, Parker, who is black, said: “Is he a brother or a cornball brother?”
“I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry,” Parker posted on Twitter. “I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care.”
ESPN issued a statement Thursday announcing the suspension.
“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.”