Parker says question to Marinelli wasn't 'personal attack'

Updated: December 23, 2008, 4:14 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rob Parker, a columnist for The Detroit News who made some national headlines for asking Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli whether he wished his daughter had married "a better defensive coordinator," explained his position Monday in his newspaper column.

He also appeared on "ESPN First Take" (where he is a frequent guest) to talk about his question and subsequent column. Parker said he was sorry if he offended Marinelli's family.

Parker has repeatedly questioned Marinelli about his defensive coordinator, Joe Barry, who also is Marinelli's son-in-law. On Sunday, after the Lions lost 42-7 to New Orleans, Parker asked: "On a light note, do you wish your daughter would have married a better defensive coordinator?"

Fox television showed the question, prompting analyst Terry Bradshaw to say: "You're a disgrace to your profession, my friend. You're a total idiot."

Monday, Parker wrote, "What might have seemed like a personal attack wasn't."

Marinelli ignored the question during his news conference after Sunday's game. Monday, he blasted Parker.

"Anytime you attack my daughter, I've got a problem with that ..." Marinelli said. "It was premeditated. I think there's something wrong with that."

Did it cross the line?

"Big-time," Marinelli said.

Parker said his relationship with Marinelli and his history of asking the question about Barry, whose defense is last in the NFL this season, prompted his question.

"Who knows, Marinelli, a straight shooter who never goes off script, might actually have given us a funny quote," Parker wrote in his Detroit News column Monday.

"He didn't. My attempt failed.

"And because of that, my attempt at humor may have seemed slighted, cruel, and even insensitive.

For that, I apologize."

Marinelli wasn't ready to accept Parker's published apology on Monday.

"I didn't read it. I was told a little bit about it," Marinelli said. "I don't accept anything."

Detroit News managing editor Don Nauss said Parker's question was inappropriate and unprofessional.

"The News is taking this matter seriously and will deal with it promptly in an appropriate manner," Nauss said, according to the newspaper.

The Lions are 0-15 and close the schedule at Green Bay, where they haven't won since 1991, hoping to avoid sealing a perfectly imperfect season.

In his newspaper column, Parker detailed some of his relationship with Marinelli, saying that the coach had "gone out of his way several times to offer words of encouragement."

He added after a recent exchange, "It told me about the respect he has for me. I believe he knows I respect him as well."

Parker also works for 1050 ESPN Radio in New York.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report