By Gary Norris Gray-Staff Reporter
It would be nice if any network football broadcaster would announce that the starting quarterbacks for the New York Football Giants and the Las Vegas Raiders are Michael Louis Ingram, Anthony McClean, or Gary Norris Gray without the reference to the color of their skin. Unfortunately we are not there yet on the field or in the country.
Teams still think it’s okay to switch African American college quarterbacks to other positions, like tight end, wide receiver, or defensive back. Meanwhile, white college quarterbacks, regardless of their talent rarely, if ever, have to face this challenge. The recent quarterback to tight end assignment of Tim Tebow in Jacksonville is an anomaly, and that did not end well for Tebow or the Jaguars.
Last year, 11 Black quarterbacks started in week one of the NFL season. Nevertheless, by the end of the season those promising numbers dropped to what seems to be that invisible limited number of seven.
In 2021 Black quarterbacks could break records if the NFL would give them a chance to play. It’s ok for Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady or L.A. Rams’ Matthew Stafford to make unquestioned millions, while Dak Prescott-Dallas and Russell Wilson-Seattle have to fight to claim their salaries. REALLY?
Currently there are 24 Black quarterbacks on team rosters, the highest number in history, but that invisible number seven still looms. This is before the 2021-2022 pre-season cuts. Many might say that is a vast improvement over any previous season, but is it really when there are more African American college quarterbacks graduating?
The quarterback position has changed, and the Black quarterback is the reason why. The Black quarterback has made it a mobile position with an accurate arm, a double threat, running and passing. Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson now carry the baton from old school classic runners Colin Kaepernick, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, Randall Cunningham, and Michael Vick.
This year the number of starting African American quarterbacks could double with the recent draft picks. Time will tell, but the National Football League has unfinished business when it comes to hiring and installing Black quarterbacks.
The mantra BEST MAN PLAY seems to be a problem at the NFL’s top offensive position-quarterback and it’s 2021. The quarterback is the field general, i.e. the leader on the field and some Americans still have a problem supporting or being led by a Black man. They would rather lose with a mediocre white quarterback than win with a Black quarterback. Prime examples are in Atlanta, Washington, Arizona, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.
It is the start of the 2021 preseason and the league really has changed very little with African American starting quarterbacks there are 32 teams with 24 Black quarterbacks. Yet, at the present time there are still only “seven,” starting Black quarterbacks, the same number at the end of last year.
Another mantra is still true:- African American quarterbacks still have to be twice as good as their white counterparts, twice as smart, and faster. Black quarterbacks have to consistently put up above average numbers week after week while their white counterparts do not.
Your homework assignment for the 2021 preseason: listen and watch how the sports news media fawn and drool over Jacksonville Jaguars rookies Trevor Lawrence and Zack Wilson of the New York Jets. Then watch this same media try to ignore or denigrate San Francisco’s Trey Lance and Chicago’s Justin Fields, Black rookie quarterbacks.
“A study of media commentary reported that “[the] findings of this study indicate that despite recent improvements, a racial bias remains in NFL commentary. Black players are described primarily in terms of their physical characteristics, with less emphasis on their cognitive and personal characteristics than their white peers.” The evidence, from people directly involved to statistically significant academic research, seem to give credibility to the claim that Black quarterbacks are treated and referred to noticeably different, especially in ways that are harmful and rooted in unconsciously racist beliefs that Black people cannot handle the responsibilities of being an NFL quarterback, and succeed only due to some raw or innate physical talent.”
Years ago, sportswriter Nolan Nawrocki trashed quarterback Vince Young of the University of Texas and Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton. Nawrocki wrote about non-football issues such as a fake smile, dress styles, late to meetings and personality conflicts instead of football issues. This literary attack cost both Young and Newton money in their draft status, because many team administrators read Nawrocki’s baseless story and did not want Newton or Evans on their team. These administrators never had a conversation with Newton or Young. Again, white quarterbacks rarely if ever experience this kind of personal attack by a complete stranger.
On the other hand, being mediocre and Black will still lead you out of this league. Former quarterback JaMarcus Russell of the Oakland Raiders is an example. Russell was a serviceable player because of his size but not good enough to keep his starting job at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum with the Black and Silver.
The 2021 quarterback story will be told on the field and not in the press box. The Black quarterback will continue to change the face of the NFL if the owners, coaches, and general managers let them.
Check out the list below to see the Black QB’s in the league this season:
The four known starters in the National Football Conference (NFC) at the beginning of preseason are:-
Dak Prescott-Dallas Cowboys
Kyler Murray-Arizona Cardinals
Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks
Jalen Hurts-Philadelphia Eagles
The three American Football Conference (AFC) quarterbacks are:-
Patrick Mahomes- Kansas City Chiefs
Lamar Jackson-Baltimore Ravens
Deshaun Watson-Houston Texans
In the NFC there are three contested position with the possibility of starting in September 2021
San Francisco 49ers- Trey Lance
Chicago Bears – Justin Fields
New Orleans Saints- Jameis Winston
In the AFC the three contested positions are:-
New England Patriots- Cam Newton
Denver Broncos- Teddy Bridgewater
Pittsburgh Steelers- Dwayne Haskins
Players carrying the sideline clipboard in NFC
Geno Smith-Seattle Seahawks
Jordan Love-Green Bay Packers
P.J. Walker- Carolina Panthers
Kellen Mond-Minnesota Vikings
Bryce Perkins-Los Angeles Rams
Players carrying the sideline clipboard in AFC
Miami Dolphins- Jacoby Brissett
New York Jets- Josh Johnson
Oakland Raiders- Marcus Mariota
Houston Texans- Tyrod Taylor
Indianapolis Colts-Brett Hundley
Notes:- Brains versus Brawn: An Analysis of Stereotyping and Racial Bias in NFL Broadcasts
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor News Radio Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email email@example.com
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