ESPN’s Rob Parker Says “Racial Lines” Influence Criticism of Randy Moss, Skip Bayless Gets Too Angry
You knew you'd hear it in the wake of Randy Moss's retirement (however long it lasts) - sure, he was a great player, but only if he'd been more committed, he could have been even greater. Moss had a reputation for dogging it sometimes, and completely shutting down in bad situations other times. As a result, rather than celebrating what was as a whole one of the NFL's great receiving careers (check out Moss' rankings here, here, and here), many are instead lamenting what might have been.
And that didn't sit too well with ESPN First Take's Rob Parker, who this morning said on the program that race was a factor in how Moss is perceived - i.e. white people are harder on him. We don't doubt this - if two people of different races interact, on some level - even if it's the most subtle, deep-in-the-subconscious level possible - race will most likely play a role in that interaction. And as for the point of many white people lazily stereotyping some extremely gifted (black) athletes like Moss as being lazy...well, we've see the flipside of that in the glowing labeling of short (white) athletes like Danny Woodhead and David Eckstein as "scrappy."
Skip Bayless, though, took issue with much of what Parker said - more loudly than he usually does, in fact. Bayless was especially outraged at Parker raising the idea that it would be hard to find receivers who didn't take plays off, as Moss was often criticized for doing. Bayless' counter-examples: he saw a ton of both Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice, and never saw them take a play off. Parker's counterpoint: it would be awfully hard for Bayless to prove that (true). But Bayless really lost it when parker brought up Mickey Mantle. To see how exactly Mickey Mantle factored into a conversation/shoutfest about Randy Moss, see below, just before the three-minute mark:
Now, there are exceptions to Parker's above-mentioned talking points (as Parker himself allowed). Juan Pierre's gotten the "scrappy" tag his share of times. Kevin Durant's lauded for the way he goes about his business (much of that is due to his not being LeBron James, but it doesn't mean it's undeserved). And yesterday, Jeffri Chadiha, an African-American ESPN columnist, delivered a scathing critique of Moss' career - we'd actually call it too harsh.
But man, Bayless just lost it there, didn't he? No, Randy Moss didn't reach 100 percent of his potential, thanks in part to that ill-fated Raiders stint - but check out these career numbers again. Could the guy have done that much more? He wasn't Jerry Rice...but no one else was, either. And though Bayless accused Parker of making a sweeping generalization, when Parker mentioned talking to many different people at his barber shops, and Bayless shot back with, "But you're not talking to a whole lot of white people, are you?" - well, what do you call that?
Okay, so maybe it's fruitless to try and analyze most any debate on First Take. But Parker, we think, hit on some legitimate things here. Chief among them: the tendency of many to - whether they realize they're doing it or not - view black athletes, more so than white ones, as these incredible, perfectly-sculpted specimens, as if someone like Moss didn't have to work hard to have the career he did. Moss was uneven, but he's ultimately one of the best receivers who ever played football, and you don't get that good if you're not putting work in.
Bayless, though, responded to all this by...just being a louder-than-usual version of Skip Bayless. And though that gave us the image at the top of this post - an image we cherish like a first-born child - well, that's about all it added to the conversation.
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