Cornball Brothas: 2 Robs Don't Make a Right

After six years of marriage, I've made peace with the fact that every time I turn on my television, it will be on ESPN.

Doesn't matter what day; doesn't matter what time of day.  As the wife of an avid sports fan (who assures me, "It could be worse, much worse"), living in an avid sports city (it's not Chapel Hill but it'll do), I've embraced the unanticipated marital duties of scheduling my Sunday afternoon around the NFL; schlepping to work with red eyes and a voice that would give Barry White a run for his money after late night, weekday games; and trying not to avert my eyes from Celtic's games as Kevin Garnett unleashes a barrage of expletives (which, strangely enough, the cameras always seems to pick up with great detail).  Apparently sports and sports entertainment are two of The Five Love Languages.  Even crazier?  How much I've come to enjoy watching sports with my husband and how much I've learned in the process.

While my husband comments on the game and I comment on the player's tangential connections to reality television.  My husband take note of post-injury performances and I notice who's wearing the flyest sneakers.  He rejoices over the success of Celtics rookies while I cry out "Ray-Ray! Oh no, say it ain't so!" upon seeing Ray Allen sporting a Miami Heat jersey.  My husband laments over his fantasy football standing while I lament over the injustice of how physical altercations are treated in the NBA vs. the NHL, make jokes about "intimate relationship" between the Red Sox and Popeye's, and then poke fun at the referees' warm-up routines and calls that look like they came straight from the The Soul Train line at last summer's family reunion.  And yes, I've been known to let out a "Come on man!" every now and again.

But my proudest moment to date was in response to a passing comment that there are "No good wide receivers with dreads," to which I replied unflinchingly: "Larry Fitzgerald."

My husband looked like he was about to cry.

Last weekend as we drove through Back Bay (sorry, no Tom and Giselle sightings) he asked, "Have you heard about that guy on ESPN who got suspended for comments he made about RG3?"  By the end of a full week that included 6 am flights, early morning meetings and Christmas festivities running late into the night, I strained to even remember what I ate for lunch the previous day let alone any ESPN scandals.  Although I vaguely recalled a headline that read: An Open Letter to Rob Parker, and thought to myself: "The guy that used to host The Price is Right?  Isn't he dead?"  I have since learned the difference between Rob and Bob, and no, Bob Barker is not dead (my bad).

My husband began to relay the December 13th episode of ESPN's First Take where RG3 joined the ranks of the B.F.U.I. ("Black Folk Under Investigation," see also, Grant Hill, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, and President Obama) based on comments he'd made in a recent USA Today interview.  "And Rob Parker was like, 'Well we know he has a white fiancee'--" my husband continued.  And that's when I began to double-over in laughter.  "Hold up.  Wait a minute," I managed to get out between gasps of air, "of ALL professions in the world, he wants to start calling out black men...with women who are not the NFL...really?"

After watching the segment in its entirety I was struck by how most of the discussion around Mr. Parker's comments and his subsequent suspension is centered around two minutes of what was a fascinating fifteen minute conversation about talking braids, whether black quarterbacks can change their skin color like chameleons, an impromptu therapy session stemming from a 1997 Oprah interview with Tiger Woods, and the new paragon of honesty in the modern age: direct quotations from "Joe Regulars" (not to be confused with "Joe The Plumbers") at the barbershop who don't go to college, are struggling, have miserable lives and judge your character by looking at your spouse, how you present yourself, and warn you that braids and corporate America don't mix.

I've often heard athletes refer to sports as "the great equalizer," where all the matters is what you bring and leave on the field/court/rink/gymnasium.  But as we've seen from this story as well as Jason Gay's article in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, even sports don't live in a vacuum.  Personally, I think the best response to both RG3 and Rob Parker's comments came from Stephen A. Smith (beginning at 1:17 ending at 1:19:50)