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If you work in sports media, especially if you’re on the side of industry opinion and commentary, you’re exposing yourself to harsh criticism. Sometimes these comments cross the line into insults. It is therefore understandable that columnists, journalists and sports radio hosts block those who attack them on Twitter.
But how often does someone in the media block a colleague for criticism or good-natured mockery?
On Monday, Doug Gottlieb revealed that fellow Fox Sports Radio host Rob Parker blocked him on Twitter. Did Gottlieb address a personal insult to Parker? Did he take the negative comments too far?
No, Gottlieb was pushing back Parker’s narrative for years that Matthew Stafford was an overrated quarterback who compiled many throwing yards while trying to rally bad Detroit Lions teams from behind. “Pad Statford” was the nickname Parker gave him. Funny! And true.
But Gottlieb didn’t go to Parker with Stafford’s career stats or try to argue that he would have been more acclaimed throughout his career if he hadn’t played for the Lions. All Gottlieb did was nudge.
“Someone check up on Rob Parker,” Gottlieb tweeted. That’s it. A playful nudge to Parker’s hot anti-Stafford take. He didn’t say Parker was completely wrong. (Although he did it on the air, as you can hear in the clip above.) He didn’t insult her. No. It was just good humored teasing.
However, that – aside from challenging Parker’s claim that Tom Brady has been lucky throughout his career – was apparently all Parker could take and he couldn’t take it anymore. He blocked Gottlieb.
Gottlieb was surprised, but tried to see it from Parker’s perspective. Maybe Parker thinks co-workers in the same company shouldn’t be critical of each other. So Gottlieb texted him asking why he was blocked. Parker’s response, which he then addressed to everyone, was that if you can’t compliment him when he’s right, don’t criticize him when he’s wrong.
He seems remarkably hypersensitive. But Parker caught a lot of fire during his years as a columnist in Cincinnati, Detroit and New York, and later as a sports radio host and television personality. This is how he has chosen to treat the comments he receives. Standing firm and not backing down from an opinion is how he approaches his work.
Parker isn’t releasing his grip on Stafford now that he’s won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams. In his opinion, the Rams would have won with any quarterback in the league’s top 15 running that offense. Stafford is not special.
Gottlieb told the rest of his crew, asking if it was odd that Parker blocked him for something fairly harmless. Everyone tried to give Parker the benefit of the doubt, even trying to rationalize that it was playful. Still, all agreed that it seemed rather extreme.
So for those who offer vinegar to Rob Parker, make sure it also comes with sugar. Otherwise, it will block you. He even does it with his colleagues!