In the beginning of January, and mainly because my favorite team wasn’t even sniffing the NFL playoffs, I made a Facebook post that stated my football team rooting preferences. It was before the wildcard games. And since I was going to cheer for somebody during the playoffs, I thought I’d list my rooting order for my fellow football fans– you know, to show my process wasn’t all willy-nilly.
Now, since we’re on the precipice of the Superbowl, I’ll re-list the rooting order:
4.Any team with a black quarterback
5.Any team but the Patriots
Now, I got called out a few times for liking the Cowboys and the Giants, who are in the same division. But the most incendiary item from the list turned out that I would root for a team in the playoffs solely based on the color of its quarterback.
In a fake, post-racial society, the reality that I will root for any playoff team with a black quarterback is an indictment on the sinister, racist environment of America. This country is in a unhealthy stalemate, because White America is literally disgusted with the idea that our country is being led by a black president, with GOP politicians literally roadblocking all presidential efforts and resorting to a steady diet of slander, misrepresentation and blatant lies.
The way that White America loathes the Black president, the leader of our country, makes me ride even harder for Mr. Obama. In that same way, I ride hard for Black quarterbacks, because they have been, and still are, discriminated against by the NFL and literally throughout the entire football pipeline.
The NFL was founded in 1920, in Canton, Ohio, and from 1933-1946, there was an unofficial, gentleman’s agreement to ban black players from the league. In fact, the history of the NFL’s treatment of Black athletes mirrors the treatment of Black people in America. So needless to say, it was shitty, biased, violent, cruel and unjust for many, many years. When team owners, team management and the majority white players did begin accepting black athletes without obvious levels of prejudice and mistreatment, it came with one exception: the quarterback position.
The quarterback is the leader and the public face of the team. But owners and team management didn’t think that black athletes had the intelligence nor the leadership qualities to play the position. And though the few high-profile black quarterbacks today should alter that perception, it’s still a very skewed playing field. Cam Newton is the starting quarterback in this year’s Superbowl, and Russell Wilson became only the second black (first was Doug Williams), Super Bowl-winning QB back in 2014. So everything can look gucci, but in reality, it’s not.
Black players make up roughly sixty nine percent of the NFL, yet over the last thirteen years, they’ve made up between 16-28 percent of quarterbacks. There’s a problem in those numbers.
America has always had an issue with a black man being the hero, and the quarterback is a sports hero. When they do get a chance to play, Black quarterbacks are on an extremely short leash and need to immediately play at a high level, because they are twice as likely to get benched, than white quarterbacks.
Many black quarterbacks end up being a receiver or defensive back after high school, as college programs often recruit black high school quarterbacks to play other positions, with the NFL merely the top level of quarterback discouragement. Pro teams reroute black quarterbacks out of college, and turn them into defensive backs or wideouts, or maybe slash type players, like Antwaan Randle El, who was a college QB at Indiana University, but turned into a utility player/receiver when drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steve McNair, dynamic QB for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, was an electrifying talent in the late 90s and early aughts, but had to attend division 1aa Alcorn State College, because major college programs wouldn’t offer him a scholarship as a quarterback. It’s incredible that Warren Moon, like many other black Quarterbacks, had to take his skills to Canada in order to play his position– though he came back to the NFL to become an all-time great, and now he’s in the football Hall Of Fame.
The mobility of Black Quarterbacks is an athletic gift, though a gift that has often worked against them, as teams have traditionally been built around a pocket passer, and hence, the gift to scramble is often denigrated in coded language. There’s so much working against black quarterbacks in the NFL that I cheer them on based on all they have to persevere and also for what all the black quarterbacks had to go through in the past. To (kinda) paraphrase Jay-Z, I’m cheering Black QBs because of what they did to the Cold Crush… or something like that. I just know I got Cam for the win in Super Bowl 50 next weekend.
And I genuinely don’t care how anyone feels about it!