At a press conference following Wednesday’s practice session, rookie Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who happens to be black, made it crystal clear he didn’t wish to be defined by his race.
“For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,” Griffin said in an obvious salute to Martin Luther King, Jr. “You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I’ve tried to go out and do.
“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”
Then Griffin’s black Redskins fans were brought up.
“I am aware how much race is relevant to them,” Griffin said. “I don’t ignore it. I try not to be defined by it. But I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. I understand that they’re excited that their quarterback is an African-American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. I understand that. I appreciate them for being fans and not just fans because they’re African-Americans.”
The press still didn’t get it, and felt compelled to compare him to other black quarterbacks. Griffin insisted that he be judged solely as a quarterback with any racial distinctions removed.
Although the reporters at the Wednesday press conference finally let the race non-issue go, others picked up on it. On ESPN’s Thursday airing of “First Take,” sports analyst Rob Parker said, “my question, which is just a straight honest question, is [Griffin] a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
When asked to define “cornball brother,” Parker implied that RG3 was somehow “less black” than he should be.
“We all know he has a white fiancé. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue.”
Perhaps I’m missing something, but the only person with “an issue” is Parker. Griffin appears completely issue-free.
I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way.
ESPN released a statement Friday calling Parker’s comments “inappropriate” and has suspended him for an indefinite period.