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ESPN suspends commentator Rob Parker for 30 days for RG3 comments

December 20, 2012|By Houston Mitchell
  • Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tosses a ball on Dec. 16.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tosses a ball on Dec.… (Rick Osentoski / Associated…)

ESPN on Thursday suspended commentator Rob Parker for 30 days for calling Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III a "cornball brother" during a discussion about race.

"ESPN has decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days for his comments made on last Thursday’s episode of 'First Take,' " the network said in a statement. "Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made. 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.”

ESPN's announcement came a day after Parker issued this apology for his remarks:

"I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry. I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care. This past Thursday I failed to do that. I believe the intended topic is a worthy one. Robert’s thoughts about being an African American quarterback and the impact of his phenomenal success have been discussed in other media outlets, as well as among sports fans, particularly those in the African American community. The failure was in how I chose to discuss it on 'First Take,' and in doing so, turned a productive conversation into a negative one. I regrettably introduced some points that I never should have and I completely understand the strong response to them, including ESPN’s reaction.

"Perhaps most importantly, the attention my words have brought to one of the best and brightest stars in all of sports is an unintended and troubling result. Robert Griffin III is a talented athlete who not only can do great things on the field, but off the field handles himself in a way we are all taught – with dignity, respect and pride. I’ve contacted his agent with hopes of apologizing to Robert directly. As I reflect on this and move forward, I will take the time to consider how I can continue to tackle difficult, important topics in a much more thoughtful manner."

Parker was suspended indefinitely the day the episode aired Dec. 13. ESPN did not say Thursday whether his 30-day suspension started that day or today.

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