A Position of Racial DenialGene Clemons, FBGP Analyst ______
It was an absolute crazy 2016 NFL draft. The best and worst things about this profession were on full display. You had analyst’s mock drafts blowing up left and right as teams threw curveball pick after curveball pick. Some bottom feeder decided that they wanted to destroy a promising football player’s career over a stupid bong hit video. There were trades and subsequent fan bases rejoicing, or as a colleague stated, “Watched a fan spike his Kiko Alonso jersey in disgust!” But, there has been one thing bothering me this draft season (and yes it is a season) and it went from noticeable, to undeniable this past weekend.
There is a clear and unmistakeable double standard for white and minority quarterbacks.
Now I could write a small novel about every bias that exist, but instead I will simply point out some “interesting” tidbits associated with this draft.
#1: Is Jared Goff equal or better than Jameis Winston as a prospect?
Jared Goff was the #1 overall pick despite never leading his team to so much as a quality bowl game. He has never won a significant game, and in fact, one could argue that he has never performed like a star in a significant game. Yet, he is the guy to lead a franchise in a city where star power is the name of the game? When has he ever been a star?
#2: How is Carson Wentz better than Vernon Adams again?
So let me get this straight. Vernon Adams elevated a team to National Championship contention for three seasons. He was an FCS All-American multiple times. He made the move to one of the premiere programs in the nation and performed extremely well. But somehow, he is not better than a guy who couldn’t get on the field until his redshirt junior season. A guy who is so valuable that he lost two games out of the gate in his senior season, was hurt, and in his absence, the team returned to the national championship game without him. A guy who has never been a 1st team all-conference performer, and doesn’t have a forth of the playing experience of Adams, despite being the same age. The only thing I can definitively say that Wentz has an advantage over Adams is in his combine measurables.
#3: Why does Christian Hackenberg get a pass for two seasons of bad play after losing his coach, but Cardale Jones loses his coach and his diminished play is all his fault?
Hackenberg was the golden child coming out of high school; even though cracks in his game were exposed as far back as the Elite Eleven competition. He had a good (not great) freshman season at Penn State under then coach Bill O’Brien, who quickly bolted back to the NFL. Afterwards, Hackenberg didn’t improve, he regressed. The crazy thing is that we have heard more excuses made for his bad play than one can remember in recent history. In the end, he was just bad.
Cardale Jones still has not lost a game as a starter. He was brilliant during Ohio State’s National Championship playoff run. This past season, he lost his offensive coordinator Tom Herman and he didn’t play as well. However, unlike Hackenberg, who made two full seasons of terrible decisions at Penn State, critics have used every opportunity to take shots at Jones’ ability to operate an NFL offense.
#4: Two of the most dynamic and productive quarterbacks in college football last season can’t even get drafted?
Am I really supposed to believe that Trevone Boykin and Vernon Adams have not shown enough ability at the QB position to warrant a draft pick? I’ve watched several quarterbacks that I feel don’t deserve to be considered for employment in the NFL get drafted, while these two guys are left to fight it out in rookie minicamps just to get a training camp invite. For both Boykin and Adams, leadership, production, toughness and ability are not an issue. So why? One could argue that the three quarterbacks taken in the 1st round have just as many unknown variables.
#5: Are people already trying to devalue Deshaun Watson as the undeniable number one pick for next year?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Watson was in this draft, wouldn’t he have been the first overall pick? The reason that Goff and Wentz were elevated was due to Watson having to wait another season before declaring. But there’s no doubt that he was the most dynamic quarterback in college last season and he is only getting better. So to hear analysts begin to throw shade on his mechanics, performance – and my favorite – his decision-making ability; to hear them try and throw shade at his abilities as a leader or question his measurables is preposterous. Without a doubt there will be another white quarterback that will be thrusted into the first pick scenario when clearly the next legitimate white quarterback won’t be eligible for the draft until 2018.
I’ve tried over the years to steer clear of race and I defend the double standards that exist for white skill positions, but I have not come out and said anything related to black quarterbacks quite honestly for fear of being labeled an “angry black man” or “using the race card”, but the truth is the truth. I would be a hypocrite and ultimately not true to myself if I did not point out these things. So I no longer will. I will address them head on and let the chips fall where they may.
I welcome legitimate discussions from those who may believe my thoughts are misplaced. But I caution that any argument made that includes the ‘well I have a hidden agenda’ will be met with equal retort.
It’s a fascinating conversation and it’s time for us to have it in the open.