‘He Proved All Those J*******s Wrong’ | RG3’s Mispronunciation Of Bug-A-Boo Is A Slip Too Far

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 28: Former NFL player and ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III looks on before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Robert Griffin III trespassed in another racially sensitive area during Monday Night Football when he slipped and said “jigaboos.” The ESPN football analyst had a verbal slipup during the Monday Night Football Countdown show for the New England Patriots vs. Arizona Cardinals game.

Although Griffin went to Twitter to apologize, it is indicative of a more significant issue with his commentary style. In RGIII’s attempt to stand out amid the other talking heads, he veers into polarizing territory that seems to come at his culture’s expense.

While discussing the brilliance of NFL quarterback Jalen Hurts during the Philadelphia Eagles league-leading season, Griffin was trying to end his point on a high note, but stumbled on a low point in the commentary.

Really Robert?

“People said that Jalen Hurts couldn’t get it done,” Griffin said. “He could not break from the pocket. He’s not the quarterback of the future. I think he proved all those j*******s wrong.”

Historically, a “jigaboo” is a pejorative term created during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mock and validate stereotypes of African-American physical features. Black people find it disparaging and offensive to hear a Black man say it while talking about a Black man in a sport with major Black players; it is disconcerting.

Griffin took to Twitter to clarify.

“Yooooo, Definitely need to clarify this. THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEANT TO SAY,” Griffin tweeted. “Was trying to say “those Bug-A-Boos” in reference to haters and doubters. Regardless of my intention, I understand the historical context of the term that came out of my mouth and I apologize.”

Since the days of ESPN news reporting icon Stuart Scott, ESPN has capitalized on the cultural convergence commentary style Scott pioneered on television. As more former professional athletes become full-time broadcasters, they are attempting to carve out their niche within the media ecosystem. But there is a thin line between taking elements of the culture and infusing them with sports takes and accidentally saying a racial trope.

Doing Too Much

During a November episode of “Monday Night Football Countdown” from Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, Robert Griffin III joined along with his fellow analysts Steve Young and Booger McFarland in eating a plate of fried chicken. It was so alarming that even his wife, Grete Griffin, watched the telecast and tweeted her surprise at her husband’s actions.

“Are you eating chicken on live TV?” Greta Griffin tweeted with crying, laughing emojis during the Eagles’ first-season loss to the Washington Commanders game. Later, RGIII replied to the 29-year-old fitness instructor, simply tweeting “Yep” with three crying emojis.

The internet exploded at the action, which is inherently an American racial trope, and the only question was why it was necessary. Griffin’s wife is European, an Estonian fitness trainer, which, considering that closeness, for some of a different race, makes it even more uncomfortable for him to say a racial trope. Many do not understand why the word jigaboo could be confused with bug-a-boo in Griffin’s mind, especially on the national stage where he speaks.

Griffin has to understand that representation is a real thing, and whether he intended it or not, as a Black man, he contributes to shaping the image of the culture within sports. “Jigaboo” is unacceptable, even as a mental lapse and especially during a critical piece of the world’s NFL football season.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.