You could say that after Rob Parker was exiled from ESPN after his ill-advised commentary on “First Take” that rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III was “not down with the cause” that is being a black person and may in fact be “a cornball brother,” it was inevitable that someone would hire him.
It was inevitable that some bottomfeeding sports organization would take Rob Parker in and let him continue doing whatever it is that Rob Parker does – or had done up until last December.
What was not inevitable, however, was the bottomfeeding sports organization hiring Rob Parker being ESPN.
That’s right: This year, Groundhog Day falls on February 7.
Because on this day, we learn that Rob Parker has landed on his feet at something called The Shadow League, a website that is the product of a partnership between ESPN and a man named Keith Clinkscales, who had toiled for six years at the Worldwide Leader overseeing such efforts as the network’s “30 For 30” series; the former Vibe magazine president and CEO departed ESPN in late 2011 with the plans of starting a production company. That was basically the last we heard from him. (Actually, this was. So perhaps an inactive 2012 was a blessing in disguise.)
The Shadow League was officially announced in late January of this year. It sounds like a website that Parker would fit right in with. Clinkscales called it “an online community of thought leaders and tastemakers who understand that sports, pop culture and race are common threads that are intricately interwoven into many aspects of life.”
And how is The Shadow League keeping its darkly tinted lights on? “Funding” courtesy of ESPN, which will also allow “the potential to develop various content opportunities.”
So how in the world does Parker, who had been suspended by ESPN for one month for what would be his final “Take” on RGIII, before finally dropping the hammer on January 8, end up back in the payroll of ESPN in a first place a month later? An “industry rumor” has it that the real reason behind this hire “was so that he doesn’t sue the Worldwide Leader over his dismissal.”
And ESPN reminds you that despite their creative and financial commitments with The Shadow League, the website is “independently-owned, and ESPN does not have control over any of its operations or activities – including who they hire.”
I would imagine that one requirement in taking this gig with this ESPN-funded website was to write in his very first Shadow League column that he was sorry for his RGIII comments.
“In no way did I mean to do any harm to Griffin III, the Redskins’ starting quarterback,” he penned in his virgin Shadow League piece titled, “Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself.”
He adds that during the RGIII fallout, a lot of people “saw that black men don’t always agree with everything other black men have to say. Some of my harshest critics during that time were brothers. And that’s a good thing. Yes, we are free thinkers. Not every black person voted for Barack Obama.”
You mean, Rob, that you heard they might be a Republican? First day back in the (pseudo) ESPN fold, and you’re already regressing.
“Through the years, I have remained pretty consistent with my approach: be honest and fair,” Parker wrote. “The Shadow League is getting the hard-hitting, thorough me.”
So, in other words, Rob, you’re going to be a neutered caricature of Jason Whitlock?
“When I first started writing a column at The Detroit News, an editor, who happened to be white, said to me that I was the black Dick Young. It was the ultimate compliment. Being from NYC, I knew Young’s work well. He was the ultimate hard ball columnist. You hated him, but you had to read him. The black part of the compliment didn’t bother me. Why not? Because I am black. And this is partly why it troubles me that some of our gifted young black men that play quarterback seem diligent about distancing themselves from the “black quarterback” tag. What’s wrong with being a black quarterback?”
Wow. What hard-hitting sports journalism! The newspaper editor “happened to be white”?
I would not expect all of the columnists on this Shadow League website to be dipping into the race-baiting well that Parker has for years. Parker would be damned if his colleagues infringed on his territory, even at an urban-oriented sports website.
But it’s actually bittersweet that Rob Parker ends up working at a place called The Shadow League – but not for the reason you think.
It’s because Rob Parker is still living in the shadow of Jason Whitlock.