It was quite refreshing to read some quotes from Robert Griffin III recently in which he said he didn't want to be defined by his race, particularly as it applied to being an African-American quarterback.
"I am an African-American in America," Griffin told Jim Corbett of USA Today. "That will never change. But I don't have to be defined by that. ... We always try to find similarities in life, no matter what it is so they're always going to try to put you in a box with other African-American quarterbacks -- [Michael] Vick, [Cam] Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon. Warren Moon and Doug Williams really didn't run that much. That's the negative stereotype when it comes to African-American quarterbacks, that most of us just run. Those guys threw it around. I like to think I can throw it around a little bit."
That is high-minded stuff for a 22-year-old, even one who's seen as much of the spotlight as RG3 has. It is not uncommon to have a conversation about young African-American quarterbacks take a quick turn into Stupid Subliminal Comparison Land.
Which is why it's particularly embarrassing to hear Rob Parker of ESPN bloviate on First Take that Griffin might be a "cornball brother" and "not one of us."
"My question, which is just a straight honest question: is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?" Parker asked to much confusion among the show's other participants. "Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, 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 the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else."
Parker's comments were so ridiculous that it actually made Stephen A. Smith "uncomfortable with where we went."
It should -- perhaps the worst part of all of this is that Parker said he wanted to "know more" about RG3.
"I want to find about him," Parker said. "I don’t know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, 'I’ve got black skin, but don’t call me black.' So people wondered about Tiger Woods."
Perhaps finding out more about Griffin would be something smart to do before hopping on national television and attempting to pass judgment on the level or degree to which the Redskins quarterback represents his race.
It'll be interesting to see how and to what degree ESPN agrees. A spokesman for the network told CBSSports.com that Parker's comments "were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps."
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