By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley
AFRO Sports Writers
Despite Bluetooth technology, the microwave and the Internet, there are still some people who appear to be living in the Dark Ages and Texas superintendent Lynn Redden is one of them. The Onalaska, Texas school district official resigned Sept. 22, days after he posted “you can’t count on a black quarterback” on the Houston Chronicles’ Facebook page following the Houston Texans’ 20-17 loss last week to the Tennessee Titans.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) listens to head coach Bill O’Brien before an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Guided by signal caller Deshaun Watson — the Black Heisman Trophy winner who set the league on fire as a rookie last season until he tore his ACL in November —the Texans are off to an 0-3 start to the season. Watson hasn’t displayed the same electric play he supplied last year but he’s still the most talented quarterback the team has had in years. The verdict is still out whether Watson can lead the Texans to a title or decline after a horrific injury just as Robert Griffin III did. Despite a long list of talented Black signal callers that have piloted teams over the seasons, Russell Wilson broke a near-three decade drought in 2015 by becoming the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Doug Williams did it back in 1988. Just based off the numbers, does Redden have a point? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate.
Green: The problem facing Black quarterbacks is that they’re an already criticized race playing an even more criticism-laden position. You mix the two together and perhaps Black quarterback are given a shorter rope (no pun intended) than the traditional White signal caller. NFL coaches won’t admit it, but team owners play huge roles in roster decisions especially when it pertains to quarterback. Is it a secret that traditional NFL owners carry a certain thought towards Black athletes? Not at all. It’s expressed routinely year after year in the NFL: just look at the consensus on anthem protests. There have been several talented players over the years. Besides Wilson, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Steve McNair were all MVP-level performers who recorded appearances in the title game but couldn’t finish. So the facts are there. It’s not that you can’t count on Black quarterback. You can, but sometimes there are higher powers that don’t feel the same.
Riley: I agree that NFL owners are probably the most racist versions of owners in sports besides those in Major League Baseball, but let’s be honest: Black quarterbacks receive opportunities to be great, it’s just that the majority of them have floundered. Quarterbacks fail all the time, whether White or Black, but it’s the numbers game that could be used as logic to back up Redden’s verbal garbage. Hypothetically, if you have 10 to 15 quarterbacks getting drafted annually and 80 to 85 percent of them are White, then the margin for error is super thin for a Black quarterback to succeed. Those aren’t exact numbers but you can visualize. Historically, there’s been some excellent Hall of Fame caliber Black quarterbacks that have played in the NFL but if you’re counting Super Bowls then the numbers are against them.
Green: Winning Super Bowls demands that franchises invest and stick with their core and not too many teams are doing that with Black signal callers. Quarterbacks typically get a season or two to earn their place and, unlike other football positions, there’s only one quarterback playing at a time so the opportunities simply aren’t plentiful at that position. We’re looking at numbers that simply don’t favor Black quarterbacks. But for the elite ones like Newton and Wilson, they’ve proven that they can elevate franchises and be the faces of Super Bowl-contending teams.
Riley: Guys have had their chances but just couldn’t produce. Donovan McNabb had countless opportunities. Michael Vick blew his own opportunity in the middle of his prime. Newton’s play and postgame behavior in his lone Super Bowl appearance still ruffles some feathers. Even Wilson threw a title-losing interception at the end of Super Bowl XLIX that overshadowed his first title. It’s not racism, it’s just numbers. Obviously their White counterparts outnumber them, but the chances have been there. Guys have made it to championship games and flunked the test.