ESPN has decided not to renew its contract with Rob Parker, the commentator who sparked a public outcry when he speculated that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is a “cornball brother” because he has a white fiancé.
“Rob Parker’s contract expired at year end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew,” an ESPN spokesman said in a written statement.
ESPN can spin this as simply a decision not to renew his contract, rather than a firing, but the reality is that ESPN specifically stated on December 20 that Parker had been suspended for 30 days, and as of December 20, ESPN was expecting Parker back at the end of his 30-day suspension. (He made the comments on December 13, so a 30-day suspension from that date would have ended on January 12.)
So why did Parker’s discipline change from a 30-day suspension to termination? ESPN isn’t saying, but it may be that the network was unhappy with a recent interview Parker gave in which he said that ESPN knew what he was going to say on the air before he said it. In that interview, Parker also seemed to backtrack on his previous apology, complaining that people took his “cornball brother” statement out of context.
While serving his 30-day suspension, Parker appeared on WDIV-TV on Sunday and said he was “shocked” by the public reaction to his racist statement.
In a separate interview, Parker defended his comments, saying it “was just a conversation that’s had in the black community when athletes, or famous entertainers or whatever, push away from their people.”