Ten Black quarterbacks – the most ever – started Week One of this NFL season, and it seemed that a new era might finally be dawning. It was a positive measure of progress that rang in “The Year of the Black Quarterback.”
Fast forward almost four weeks later, and things have taken quite the turn.
In Los Angeles, Tyrod Taylor suffered broken ribs in a 16-13 win over the Bengals during the first game of the season. A week later, as he was gearing up to play Kansas City, the team doctor punctured Taylor’s lung while administering a pain killer shot. He’s now likely lost his job for the season to rookie QB Justin Herbert.
Last week, New England QB Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19, the Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson’s head coach was just fired after an 0-4 start, and Dwayne Haskins of the Washington Football Team has been benched for “performance” reasons.
In short, one player has lost his job due to physician incompetence; one to COVID; another has been benched despite having a better record and stats than the white quarterback drafted higher than him in the same draft; and one’s season was thrown under the bus due to his coach being good at absolutely nothing.
Actions beyond these players’ control railroaded all of their seasons. Front office and organizational factors beyond the field play have rarely impacted Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees so negatively. Brady, Brees, even Daniel Jones, the Giants quarterback who was drafted higher than Haskins last year, threw more interceptions last week than Haskins did, yet Haskins is the one being benched in the same dumpster fire of a division where eight wins could net you a January game.
“I just based on the things that have gone on with Dwayne, based on his development and where he is, we’re better off going with guys that know our system,” Rivera according Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post.
I guess the Giants, in the same wide-open division, don’t feel the need to move on from their young starter in Jones. Oh, and the guy Rivera is benching Haskins for, Kyle Allen, the QB he coached in Carolina, the one who knows the offense so well... Well, he threw 16 picks and just 17 TDs in 12 starts.
And the two went 5-7 together.
The franchises that drafted Blake Bortles (taken 3rd overall, 2014), Trent Dilfer (taken 6th overall, 1994) and Jones have shown that ownership will have their backs for years, waiting for the talent that talent they saw in them to emerge — those guys are their respective franchises’ quarterbacks, and they will ride with them until the wheels fall off.
It was amazing to watch this season’s start as a monumental step in the right direction for the league. Ten starting Black quarterbacks in a league that is more than 70 percent Black. That’s never been seen before at a position that traditionally has been falsely labeled as not viable for Black athletes. To watch things go this way is sad and frustrating.
Cam Newton was pushed out of Carolina after battling through a shoulder injury. Once Matt Rhule appeared on the radar as their next coach, Carolina said, “Well our new coach wants another quarterback so ‘Cam Newton you’ve got to go,’” and released him.
I’m happy that many people — white and Black — are calling out the double standard.
The situation in Los Angeles is nothing short of carelessness by a franchise that has a history of the worst medical staff in the league. I wrote about their previous team doctor responsible for several criminal acts and lawsuits from former Chargers players; you’d think this franchise would have gotten it right after he left the team in 2013, but nope.
Now, Taylor’s career is in jeopardy because of it. You’d never see this type of laxity with a guy like Derek Carr or Nick Foles.
The situation Watson finds himself in with the Texans was a culmination of years of mismanagement and increased responsibility for a guy who hasn’t proven he can accomplish one thing — developing Watson.
For a while, Watson was masking O’Brien’s poor coaching and general management decisions because of how great he was as a player. Taking away his No.1 receiver was the pin that burst the balloon; even Watson couldn’t save O’Brien from that horrendous trade of Hopkins this offense.
I want Watson to get the opportunity to play for an organization that historically has provided a stable environment for their young quarterback to flourish like New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay.
I want a Black quarterback to walk into the league and play as poorly as Matt Stafford, Carson Wentz and Daniel Jones have played this season and still hold onto their job, with his coach and ownership always defending “their guy.”
One Black quarterback, at the very least, needs that type of loyalty.