Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III walks off the field after overtime in an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens.(Photo: Nick Wass, AP)
(USA TODAY) You know a conversation has gone off the rails when Stephen A. Smith becomes the voice of reason.
That was the situation on Thursday's episode of First Take, the ESPN troll-fest most famous for serving as the ongoing Tim Tebow conversation the world never asked for.
Rob Parker, a former Detroit News columnist, questioned RGIII's blackness and claimed he wasn't authentic. "Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother," Parker asked.
"I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he's a Republican."
The bombastic Smith had to put an end to it.
"I'm uncomfortable with where we just went," he said. "RGIII, the ethnicity or the color of his fiancée is none of our business, it's irrelevant, he can live his life in whatever way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that's his business, that's his life, he can live his life."
A transcript of the discussion is below:
Rob Parker: "But my question, which is just a straight, honest question, is: Is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?"
Cari Champion: "What does that mean?"
Skip Bayless: "Explain that."
Parker: He's not real. OK, he's black, he kind of does the 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, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he's off to something else.
Champion: "Why is that your question?"
Parker: "Well because that's just how I want to find out about him. I don't know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about how he's a Republican, which, I don't really care, 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."
Robert Littal of BlackSportsOnline.com ripped Parker for the comments and added the most important point of all:
If being a cornball is being engaged to someone you love, not speaking like [rapper] Trinidad James, not getting in trouble and playing the QB position at a very high level, I wish more NFL players would be cornballs.
Parker also has history with RGIII's backup. In 2008, he reported that Kirk Cousins, then the quarterback for Michigan State, had been involved in a fight with members of the school's hockey team. It was later discovered that Cousins was at church with his parents when the fight occurred.
The Detroit News suspended Parker for two weeks after the incident.
Back to RGIII. I live in D.C. and have been caught up in the whirlwind as much as anyone. I have a twice-daily Google Alert for RGIII's name. I've been tuning into local sports radio for the first time in years. I've watched the replay of Sunday's game five times. I've been nudging my wife to get me his jersey for Christmas. I was only half-kidding when I told my sister she should name her newborn Robert, "Griffin" or "the third." Through all of that, I can't remember the last time I heard someone talk about RGIII's race.
That's not one of those holier-than-thou "I don't see people's color" statements. It's merely a point of fact. Other than hearing Michael Wilbon mention it on PTI and seeing aWashington Post article about RGIII's role in the black community, I don't hear the topic come up. It's discussed, but it's not considered as important as it would have been 20 years ago. It hasn't been a talking point. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?
Apparently the RGIII race card has been played before. By Skip Bayless. On ESPN'sFirst Take.
You do the math.
ESPN has yet to respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY Sports. A call to Ben Dogra, Griffin's agent, has been unreturned also.
Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports