Rob Parker Interview!

October 4, 2009


He’s been dubbed as “America’s angry black sports columnist” and his work has been offensive to some, even controversial at times. But one thing that people have come to love about Rob Parker is that he keeps it real!

The New York native has never been the one to bite his tongue about any issue, which has propelled him to the top of the business. Parker has worked for the Daily News in New York, the Cincinatti Enquirer, and the Detroit News, while never losing his voice in the process.

Parker now spends his time going head-to-head with Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take while also co-hosting a radio show.

On his way to a Detriot Tigers game last Friday, I caught up with Parker in an over-the-phone interview and nothing has changed about him at all as he continues to keep it as real as it gets. Here is how our conversation went:

Eric Woodyard: Can you tell the people a little bit about your story and how did you become so heralded in the Michigan sports community?

Rob Parker: When I was a kid, just nine years old, I just loved sports and I loved to write and my teacher, when I was in second grade, told me I should be a writer. So that was always in the back of my head but my dream was to be a pro athlete like most kids. I wanted to be a baseball player and play first base for the Mets. That was my dream. Then I realized at an early age that that’s not gonna work and I’m not good enough to go that route. So I was like ‘well what else could I do to kinda stay around sports?’  

Then there also used to be an old show called the “Odd Couple,” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it or heard what’s it about?

EW: Yeah I’ve heard of it…

RP: It’s about a sloppy sports writer and a clean photographer, two divorced men that live together and they always bump heads. Then I was like Oscar Madison has the greatest job, he goes to ball games, gets paid, eats hot dogs, you know what I mean?

That’s what I wanna do! And that’s how I really got involved and got interested just by watching that.

EW: As far as getting to where you’re at now, like being on ESPN and other national outlets, what do you think separated you from all of the other journalists?

RP: Hard work and determination. I out worked everybody, that’s just it. People always think that people get to certain places by luck or because they know somebody and all that other stuff and none of that’s true for me. I didn’t know anybody and that’s not how it happened and I was just determined that I was gonna get there.

When you have a dream from the time that you are nine years old that you wanna be a sportswriter and you work towards that dream, I’m not saying that everybody’s gonna make it, but that’s how I got there.

I still say to this day that hard work pays off.

EW: I know you’ve transitioned from being caught up with the controversy with the Detroit News to now being on ESPN, but what has been the best part working with ESPN? Why do you think they took the chance with you?

RP: Because I brought something to the table. That’s the thing, you have to bring something to the table. It’s not just about having an opinion, which is very important obviously, but it’s also about: How do you back your opinion up? Where is your opinion based from?

If you’re just saying, ‘Well that’s my opinion and I cant back it up,’ then your opinion is worthless. But if you get up there and you’re able to have an opinion, have a strong take on something, but also could back it up and have an argument than that makes sense and people can listen to you. They can disagree with you but they can say ‘Alright, I don’t agree with Eric but I understand where he’s coming from, he makes valid points.’ And I think that’s where you wanna get to.

EW: How is it to work with Skip Bayless? He’s one of the most hated journalists because he dogs so many athletes out…

RP: I love it! I think Skip is the kinda guy that you need on that show because it’s too much pure worshipping of athletes. I think it’s ridiculus because most don’t deserve it, most are not as good as we make them out to be. If we’re gonna glorify them when they hit a home run then we should be able to attack them or trash-talk them when things don’t work out.

I think we got too much one-side quote-unquote journalism. I just say be fair, be honest and that’s my whole thing. Don’t take cheap shots at people, be honest and deal with the facts and most people wont have a hard time with that if you deal with the facts. If you just take cheap shots at people than you’ll never make it.

EW: Talk about some of your predictions for the Michigan teams this year…obviously you’re headed to a Tigers game right now, what do you think the Detroit Tigers will end up doing this year? Do you think they have a legitimate shot of taking the World Series?

RP: No I don’t. The team is just too up and down. They should make it (the playoffs), they got four games left but I just can’t see how they will just all of a sudden come together. I think they would lose in the first round of the playoffs.

EW: What about the Detroit Lions? Obviously they got their first win after losing 19 games straight, do you think this will carry them over to having at least a decent season…maybe a five-win year?

RP:  Nope. I predicted them to win three games this season and I will stick with that. I still think they have some issues with the quarterback. Washington’s a terrible team, or at least played terrible, and they have St. Louis on the schedule and Cleveland on the schedule, so there’s a couple teams that they might be able to beat but most of the other teams I just don’t see it yet.

EW: What about the Detroit Pistons…they just had their media day the other day and obviously they got some new additions with Charlie V and Ben Gordon. Do you think they have a legitimate shot to return to being a championship contender like they were with Chauncey Billups on the team?

RP: No. I think they’re in a rebuilding. It wont be long, they’ve go some more pieces that they need to add along the way but it’s a good start. They’re young, energetic guys that can score the basketball. They’re gonna be better than they were last year and they’re gonna make the playoffs but they’re in transition right now.

EW: Out of all of the Michigan things that you’ve covered, what was your favorite event to cover?

RP: In Michigan or just in general?

EW: In general…or both…

RP: I’ve covered some great World Series games and I think that’s the stuff that I hold on to. I was there when the Mets won that classic game in 1986 over the Red Sox. I covered the World Series in 2001. So when I think about sports those are the types of things that stand out.

Also, I was there for Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo. People don’t remember if he would’ve missed that shot than that was it for the Bulls and they were out of the playoffs. It was the start of greatness and I was there for that.

EW:  What can we expect from Rob Parker of the next few years?

RP:  I mean it’s cliché, keeping it real, but I think the thing that what people appreciate from me is that I’m not blind to the reality that if something is good, then you say it’s good, if something is bad, then you say it’s bad. I think people appreciate that from people who are covering their team so I’m always gonna bring that no matter what.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: