Friday Fire: Is There A Future In The NFL For Black Quarterbacks?

On one hand you have Michael Vick, who prior to his time away from football seemed destined to be your classic running quarterback. Thanks to a coaching staff and dedication from Vick he has morphed into a dual threat that gives opposing defensive coordinators even more sleepless nights than those prior.

On the other you have players like Vince Young, Tavaris Jackson and Jason Campbell – players with a world of potential whose growth  has been stunted due to coaching changes, coaches who lack confidence in their ability to lead a team or both.

On the horizon are the future signalcallers in the NFL; Josh Freeman, Troy Smith, Tawhidul “Joe” Webb, Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor. What lies ahead for them in a league where coaches would rather neuter than nuture and a sports media that looks for every reason NOT to place on the same level playing field as their White counterparts.

29 Responses to “Friday Fire: Is There A Future In The NFL For Black Quarterbacks?”

  1. Temple3 says:

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    We had this conversation a few years ago and some TSF fam were openly wondering if every Black QB and Black coach would be fired from the league. What’s happened since then?

    Tomlin won a Super Bowl. Raheem Morris became a strong Coach of the Year candidate. Leslie Frazier ascended to the top in Minnesota — after being offered a tandem GM-Coach position in Seattle with Tony Dungy. Jim Caldwell is entrenched in Indianapolis, Lovie Smith has a healthy team and remains in one of the elite jobs in the league. Marvin Lewis, for what its worth, is still in Cincinnati — even after an abysmal season. The Naysayers and Doctors of Doom have proven wrong on this count.

    What of the QB’s? Frankly, I think VY is a bit of a dick. Who gets FIRED and then talks about “taking their talents elsewhere”? When he grows up, he may have a job.

    Campbell clearly has done more to ingratiate himself to Al Davis than Tom Cable. Cable was rumored to be getting the boot. Campbell will be entrenched there as long as he continues to improve. And, please be clear that his Raiders were 6-0 against the AFC West. They swept San Diego and Kansas City.

    The writing is on the wall. Chris Collinsworth even said it on national TV…and he’s the LAST one to say it. The tide is turning in the NFL. If you’re immobile, you’re done. Byron Leftwich is immobile. He should be called the Black Cannon. He was replaced by a high-quality player in David Garrard because of that.

    Moon’s Maxim about Black QB’s carrying clipboards is true in San Francisco (for now), Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Minnesota. The writing is on the wall. When its all said and done, Tony Dungy, Dan Rooney, and company will have a legendary impact on the game. Just watch.

  2. Ron Glover says:

    Temple, I’m on board with everything you said. The Raiders sweeping the AFC West was huge – funny but not unusual that all the credit went to Tom Cable because he’s standing on the gallows.

    I’m glad to see Marvin Lewis have the season that he did and still keep a job. I don’t think Carson Palmer will be his QB next season but I understand his blowing smoke.

  3. GrandNubian says:

    I said this a few years ago…..I brought it up on it on this site late last year when MV7 was tearing sh** up and i’ll bring it up again:

    EVERY position on the football field has undergone some change due to the increasing athleticism of the players entering the game. Look at all the positions. Defensive Ends now run close to a 4.4 40 time (Julius Peppers, a young John Abraham, etc.). Defensive Tackles (Suh) are running down QBs downfield. Linebackers are covering WRs (Lawrence Timmons, Patrick Willis, etc.)

    The game is evolving and so are the positions. The QB position is the last to go through this process, but ultimately is going to happen. The traditional pocket passer will be a thing of the past. QBs will have to be able to move around in the pocket or else get knocked the “F***” out. This will become a trend in the league and there will be more and more coordinators getting on board and relishing at the chance to create a new style offense that will suit the dual-threat QB. Thank you Michael Vick. 😉

    Leading the pack will be Black QBs, because of their speed and athleticism. In about 20 – 30 yrs, the QB position will resemble the RB, WR and DB positions respectively.

  4. Origin says:

    Great question Ron……….when I get some time I will comment.

    But let me leave you with this.

    http://dc.sbnation.com/washington-redskins/2011/1/6/1919468/jason-campbell-redskins-interview-scapegoat

  5. Temple3 says:

    GN:

    The tension in your argument and Origin’s point is this: unlike in the NBA, the NFL fan base still needs to consistently demonstrate a willingness to pay to see teams featuring Black QBs. In some regions, Black QBs are not going to generate the same buzz as a so-called Golden Boy. In essence, what you have is affirmative action driven by demographics.

    It shouldn’t take 20-30 years for the transformation to occur, but I don’t believe it will be as complete as you imagine. In fact, the issue isn’t the ability to run — it’s pocket mobility (as you said). The flip side of the athleticism argument is that not every white QB is a statue (Rodgers, Cutler, Tebow, Locker, etc.) And, not every mobile white QB has what it takes (Crouch? Ouch!)

    I think the most critical factor is the presence of Black GM’s and coaches in the employ of franchises with a commitment to winning. Black GMs have done a stellar job in the NFL. Baltimore, the Giants, and the Cardinals (regardless of their performance/coaching) have tons of talent on both sides of the ball. That’s the real driver here — until the OWNERSHIP gulf is bridged.

    That’s what might take 20-30 years. But if you get one Black owner, you’ll shortly have several more.

  6. Ron Glover says:

    Ownership – Now that’s one topic that the NFL hasn’t touched on.

    I wonder if Oprah would entrust about a billion to us, I’m sure we could make it work.

  7. GrandNubian says:

    @T3….

    I’m not saying that come 20-30 yrs every starting QB in the game will be Black; what i’m saying is that the majority will be, just like at the RB, WR and DB positions.

    As for as demographics, I can understand the notion of tradition, prejudice, etc. But what I think will trump that IS the the buzz of having a dual-threat QB. I think with the younger generation evolving and the older one fading out, the traditional thought process (i.e. Golden Boy) will fade away enough for the brothers to get a shot, much like it has in college.

  8. Rob says:

    The # 1 QB recruit from last year Phil Simms (a dropback passer) is poised to takeover in ‘Bama and won’t hesitate to transfer if he doesn’t get the opportunity.

    E.J. Manual, a 6’5″ rocket armed, athletic, pass-first QB will take over a resurgent FSU. He already has a great deal of starting experience including leading the Noles to two bowl victories.

    David Watford, the #1 QB from from VA is staying home to play for a brother: Mike London. The UVA staff asked him to enroll early to compete for the starting job as a freshman. Watford holds a 3.7 GPA and is a cousin of former UVA QB Marques Hagans who scored 37 on the wonderlic; you do the math. The kid didn’t throw an INT this year which shows his decision-making ability. Watford’s 6’2″and projected to get taller. UVA runs a pro-style offense

    Logan Thomas is a 6’6″ cat that was recruited as an athlete although he played QB in high school. He has created the most buzz from the VT program since Mike Vick. Tech runs an ugly, boring, but still pro-style offense.

    Braxton Miller is considered the best QB in the country by many scouts. Miller is much more advanced than Terrell Pryor was at a similar stage. Miller’s enrolling early in OSU; Pryor didn’t, or he’d be more advanced than he already is in OSU’s pro-style offense.

    Christian Lemay, my favorite QB in this class is without question the best passer in this class. Lemay’s enrolling early at Georgia; they run a pro-style offense.

    Norm Chow finally relented and recruited a brother, Brett Hundley; USC recruited one last year, Jesse Scroggins. Sorry, but seeing is believing with those two programs, so I won’t even get deep into the talent of those two cats’. Suffice to say, much of what I wrote about the other QBs above applies to them as well.

    That’s only the tip of the iceberg…….. Boyd at Clemson, Brigewater playing for Charlie Strong, the cats’ in Miami, wherever Bolden from PSU transfers to, and so on.

    Ron G., it’s inevitable, that’s why we hear the screams so clear.

  9. Burundi says:

    Ownership does in fact appear to be a key. While this is an aside pertaining to the NBA, it may be nonetheless relevant within the NFL:

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2011/01/elgin-baylor-los-angeles-clippers-donald-sterling-1/1

  10. Rob says:

    Temple3, I believe this is where the NFL’s economic model being based largely on TV revenue benefits the Black QB. Simply put, it doesn’t matter about the fannies in the seats as much as those in front of the tube. Vick is the biggest draw in the league.

    College football is the second most popular TV sport with brothers leading the helm on many teams.

    I know it’s cynical, but I always thought we were headed in this direction. No, not because of the increasing speed of the game, at least solely. Rather, the NFL owners will have the
    same advantage in negotiations with brothers leading teams that NBA owners have with Kobe, ‘Bron, ‘Melo and ‘Stat if you get my drift. The only difference being NFL players won’t have foreign leagues to fall back on. The golden boys have become bigger than the game because of what they represent. That’s great for insecure white male fans, but a potential threat to wealthy white male owners slice of the pie. I believe the owners will choose a much larger portion of a potentially slightly smaller pie over an dwindling portion of a large but close to maxed out pie. Greed before race.

    In my opinion, the NBA even with all of the hate it receives has clearly passed MLB in popularity although it’s rarely written about.

  11. kos says:

    Black QB’s biggest problem in the NFL, has always been coordinators antiquated thinking. Many don’t understand anything but drop back passing. No imagination beyond old ways of offense.

    Instead of trying to use the mobile black QB’s strengths to the team’s advantage they want to run the offense the same way they would if the QB was a statue. A good offensive coordinator can adjust to his personnel. There are too few in the league who do this effectively.

    Also, it can’t be underestimated how much teams tend to treat black QB’s like they don’t know how to play QB. That’s not happening to Joe Flacco or Matty Ice.

    I like what was said about having black general managers, owners, & coaches. That plays an important part in how a team integrates a young black QB. If they are calling the shots, then a black QB is more likely to get a fair shot.

  12. eric daniels says:

    What’s up fam,

    I would like to say the position of QB is constantly evolving into a mobile, smart signal caller. Mike Vick has changed the position forever through speed, intelligence and heart, he has become another version of Steve Young all he has to do is win a Super Bowl. With VY and Jeff Fisher, I think that was a bad marriage from the start considering he wanted Matt Lineart.

  13. Miranda says:

    Completely off subject, but gotta share. I heard the story on Tom Joyner and the Stews – both times had me in tears laughing so hard…until I saw the video…I could not breathe from laughing so hard…but this uncle is my hero for life:

  14. GrandNubian says:

    @Miranda…

    I saw Barkley’s rant last night at half-time of the Mavericks-Thunder game. It was too funny…..lol 🙂

  15. Temple3 says:

    Rob:

    Thanks for sharing. I see 2 sides to the $$ side of the question. I don’t believe Black QBs will be playing at discount prices. MV7 was the highest paid player in the entire league for a minute. It’ll happen again – and the salaries will be driven by draft position. Vick is playing at a DEEP discount now.

    If we embrace kos’ point re: offensive coordinators (and I do), then it means another change must also occur. The rapidity with which NFL teams adopted the “Wildcat” and Pistol suggests there is pressure to change. Frankly, I think these PHAT offensive stats are largely an illusion. Given the rules and officiating and politics of the league, no offense should ever have fewer than 400 yards and 28 points. So, OC’s, to me, are under tremendous pressure. Few keep a job longer than 3 years.

    Kos: Falcons dumbed down offense for Ryan by using BC terminology. Ravens vacillate on this with Flacco. Check out Sterling Sharpe on Playbook discussing Flacco.

    Final thought: white QB’s like Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Romo, Cutler, and Tebow are going to accelerate this trend – especially if they continue to win.

  16. Origin says:

    @Miranda – Barkley went off. Oh and I did see that video with the uncle…..LOL!!! He tore that ass up……..then told him to put that on your wall….LOL!!!

    I guess the uncle showed folks how to handle them Bebe kids!!!

  17. Origin says:

    If Luck stays in Standford he might get screwed……cause Harbuagh is now going to SF………5 years $25 mill.

    Why do I have a feeling he will be back in college in 3 years.

  18. Miranda says:

    That uncle should get a medal! LOL, “I dont care if you saying Happy Birthday God”…………ROFLMAO

  19. Origin says:

    Yeah I saw that…………I was dying sista.

    He beat that ass like Pops on Waynes Brothers TV show.

  20. Origin says:

    Great points everyone………….this has been a wonderful discussion.

    Black QBs aren’t going anywhere………the numbers will gradually increase over the years. The thing about the NFL as I have said before is that progress is slow. The NFL has been the most popular sports for decades. There is no need for them to take chances….the leagues whole goal has been to not to rock the boat and not to kill the golden goose. The sport is considered a down south and Middle America sport. Where as say the NBA is considered a more Urban and sports (I hate using the phrase Urban, but you’ll know what I mean). Many white fans are reluctant to root for and follow black QBs. The QB position is built on a lot of racial myths and stereotypes (one of the reasons 50 million questions are asked about a black QBs wonderlic test no matter how good he is).

    When looking at the QB position we must understand the history of the NFL. This is a league in which JFK had to force the owner of Washington to integrate his team. A league in which the first black coach was hired in 1989 (where as MLB had its first black coach in 1970 and the NBA had its first black coach in 1968). We have to also understand that blacks were only given the opportunity to play certain positions such as LB because of the NFL’s rival the AFL.

    The AFL opened doors to black players from HBCs. The AFL was also responsible starting the first black QB (Chiefs), the first to draft a black QB (Raiders), had the first black field goal kicker. At the time the NFL had an unwritten rule that there couldn’t be any more then 5 black players on a team. The AFL being a start up league was willing to push the envelope in order to compete with the NFL.

    So without the AFL to compete against the NFL we may not have such a large influx of black players on offense and defense……..plus the progress of the black QB would be even slower.

    Talking to my father I believe as the league has become more dominated by black players at the skilled position and on defense. The league and media when it has come to marketing the teams has focused more on the QB position…..no matter how sorry the golden boy QB is. The league has always feared being turned into another NBA in which the best and most marketable players were black. So they basically flipped the script through rules and marketing made the league to be all about the QB (I.E. Golden Boy). You can tell in which the way white QBs are protected and marketed by the league and media.

    The problem with this is that the game has progressed so much when it comes to the speed of the defense and passing the ball. It has put an emphasis on the QB being able to run. I mean really why do you think all the QBs in the CFL are mobile???

    The NBA has ran into the same problem as they were trying to get more white European players by the changing of rules they opened pandoras box with no hand checking rules and no 3 second/no true zone. So now we have a great influx of not only Afro-American players, but Afro-Latin, Afro-European players. You can take a look at the Brazilian and French national teams and the NBA talent they have.

    What you see from the NFL is trying to stop a boil from bursting. As Rob pointed out there is a flood of black talent at the QB position coming out in the next few years. They will try to slow down the influx and I am sure they will keep the numbers low for the next few years………but eventually they won’t be able to turn back the tide.

    During the 80s, I would say that we had about 2 to 3 black QBs starting. In the 90s it was about 3 to 4. This past decade it was maybe anywhere from 4 to 7 depending on injuries (I think 2003 we had 8 starting). So you see the numbers have increased but its a very slow process….I still feel that the league has a quota system on how many can start. I don’t know if we will get the majority being black in 20 or 30 years as GN said. I have always felt that the NFL is about 20 to 30 years behind in terms of diversity compared to say the NBA. But I believe in the next 30 years we will have 12 to 15 black QBs starting on a consistent basis (not being backups or coming in for injured white players).

    You know what’s funny with all of this? The NFL is more accepting of black coaches then black QBs. But in college teams are more accepting of black QBs then black coaches. The reason for that is in college the coach is the face of the team and in the NFL the QB is the face of the team.

    Another thing has anyone realized that when they attend an NFL game its like you are on BET 106 and Park with all the rap and R&B songs played?? My cousin got me games to the Cowboys vs. Eagles here in Dallas and I swear all I heard was Usher, Jeezy and Waka Flaka being played the whole game. I was like is this the Cowboys stadium or a concert……LOL!!!

    Yet they play some damn country music in the pregame show when I am watching the games on TV.

  21. Temple3 says:

    With all due respect, I think we need to ensure that our historical grounding is solid before proceeding forward.

    For example, the KC Chiefs, to my knowledge, were not responsible for the first Black QB in the old AFL. That honor goes to the Denver Broncos and their 14th round draft pick Marlon Briscoe. It is also worth adding that while Briscoe was the first to start a game, James Harris was the first to start a season. There is obviously a tremendous difference between these two. Harris was paired with OJ Simpson in Buffalo — the original Randall-Robert Smith combination.

    While I absolutely agree that the emergence of the AFL was important, I believe that the emergence of the old AAFC may have been more important. As we know, the NFL had a black coach (Fritz Pollard) long before 1989, but the league also embarked on a no-black policy for roughly 13 years (1933-1946).

    The AAFC was born in 1946 and their signature team — the Cleveland Browns — featured several Black players. The best of that bunch was the legendary Marion Motley. His feats have faded from memory, but if you can imagine a man with the relative stature of Shaquille O’Neal playing football in the 1940’s — you can see what he meant to the Browns. The NFL was generally dismissive of the Browns, but that all changed once they crushed the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the 1950 season.
    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/195009160phi.htm

    The Eagles were the NFL’s defending champion. The Browns were faster, more athletic, and dominant. The 35-10 score, at that time, was a Shot Heard Round the World. It was, of course, reprised by the NY Jets in their defeat of the Baltimore Colts. The AAFC brought the Browns, 49ers, and original Baltimore Colts (not the same franchise as the one created in 1953) into the NFL. The Browns beat them again later in the season.

    Time doesn’t permit a discussion of that 1950’s team, but we know the impact of Motley and later Browns like Jim Brown. We also know the impact of Paul Brown. He is the architect of ALL that we see in this NFL on offense. So….

    ———————————————————–
    I’m not sure who Origin is referring to as the first Black QB drafted by the Raiders, but the record says that the Green Bay Packers drafted Charlie Brackins in 1955 (16th round).

    This web site provides excellent information on the topic:
    http://lloydvance.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/african-american-quarterback-research-study/

    Note the information about position changes. It’s clear and definitive. Even a blind man could see (now, we all know that white supremacists have far worse vision problems than the blind, but that’s a discussion for another time).

    Finally, I agree that the AFL was important — but I’m not clear that they influenced the number of Black QBs in the NFL — especially since the AFL’s dominant teams were not run by Black QBs. In fact, one could argue that the two most prolific “non-white” QB’s of the 1960’s and 1970’s both played for the same NFL franchise — the Los Angeles Rams (Roman Gabriel – Asian; James Harris – Black). It seems like Harris is the only one who made the conversion from the AFL to the NFL (and remained in his original position).

  22. TC says:

    Hope everyone’s well and the TSF fam has a blessed 2011…I don’t have much to add here other than that, as a white person, I know how white people love their power trips and I think that the more black GMs there are, the more opportunities there will be for promising black QBs. Even then, I don’t know what guarantees there are. I do hope that more GMs of whatever color start to recognize the impact that players like Mike Vick and other black QBs make so that it becomes more simply a matter of making one’s football team better. I know that’s pie in the sky, but as long as hearts aren’t changed, the tendency to give into baser instincts will haunt us.

  23. Origin says:

    Great points Temple………I had some errors in my post. I meant to make another post late last night correcting some of the mistakes I made.

    I meant to say that the Chiefs had the first black MLB in Willie Lanier and the Broncos had the first black QB in Marlon Briscoe. The Raiders drafting the first black QB is incorrect. They were the first to draft a black QB in the 1st round (Eldridge Dickey).

    Sorry for the incorrect information………fell asleep before I had a chance to correct what I wrote.

    Also I am not saying that the AFL influenced the QB numbers totally. What I am saying is that they were the first to knock down some of the barriers. Without Brisco and Harris starting in the AFL maybe it would have taken even longer for black QBs to get an opportunity in the NFL. Without a door being opened progress takes that much longer.

    Oh and I did take into account the great Fritz Pollard playing in the old AAFC. But with the total blackout policy by the league from 1933-1946 it prevented progress for years to come.

  24. Origin says:

    Well said TC………….good to see you back here man.

  25. Julius says:

    It’s legitimate to argue that black quarterbacks aren’t given a fair shake and the ability to utilize their skills to full advantage (particularly the running game). Vick will forever be saddled with the tag of a “running QB” with minimal passing accuracy. However, among all races the proof is in the pudding. Once a slew of black quarterbacks win the Super Bowl, then the perception of black quarterbacks will change permanently. Them’s just the facts. If you win, you get respect. The problem is that it’s been a long, long time since Doug Williams, no matter whose fault that is.

  26. ali ameer says:

    i think it would be more of blacks qb the 2 to 3 years down the road its right there.

  27. Joseph says:

    This is the most racist website I have ever seen. While you may be taking over every position on the field, just remember who is paying the checks. Look at the fans in the seats. As far as failed QBs such as Vince Young, are you seriously blaming it on coaching? They flopped plain and simple. I bet you’d never blame Ryan Leaf’s failure on coaching! You should be ashamed of yourself for publishing such lies and racist remarks. Pathetic!

  28. […] On the field, Tebow’s privileges were noticed two years ago as Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis was “shocked” at the level of coaching support he received. This season, Tebow’s special handling as a “run-first” quarterback has inspired “Black Quarterbacks Suffer Again”, “What’s Race Got to Do With It?”, and “Would He Start if He Were Black?”. Perhaps no commentary was more personal and powerful than that of Kordell Stewart (go to 9:30 marker). And perhaps no website has been more consistently on top of the compromised plight of “The Black Quarterback” as The Starting Five. For starters go here, here, and here. […]