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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Level Of Disrespect For Black QBs This Week Is Sickening

Illustration for article titled The Level Of Disrespect For Black QBs This Week Is Sickening
Illustration: Eric Barrow/Getty

Did you hear Tom Brady is leaving the Patriots for the Buccaneers? This is something that should never have happened just based on Brady’s line of credit. All the Brady talk may have drowned out a larger troubling pattern this week – the consistent disrespect of black quarterbacks by the NFL and media. Let’s get right to it:

1. Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent; NFL owners are still colluding against him; and NFL collusion is still a crime.

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The sports media erasure of Kaepernick from free agency lists and analysis still amounts to journalistic complicity in this ongoing crime by NFL owners. Any and all articles on free agency should still always begin with Colin Kaepernick.

The last NFL quarterback to come back after not playing an NFL down for three years was Teddy Bridgewater, who went 5-0 with the Saints last year before signing this week with the Carolina Panthers.

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2. Cam Newton

On Monday, the Panthers announced, “We have given Cam Newton permission to seek a trade.” Upon reading, this author naturally assumed Cam wanted out of Carolina. Not so fast. Shortly after, Cam responded on Instagram to set the record straight:

“Stop with the word play. I never asked for it,” he commented. “There is no dodging this one. I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys. Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this. You forced me into this. Love”

A few hours later, the Panthers signed Bridgewater. Newton is now on the verge of being released by the Panthers.

Is this really the thanks Cam gets after nine years of playing through injuries, taking the Panthers to a Super Bowl with a 15-1 record with a team that failed to give him any real offense of support?

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“Sounds familiar,” responded tight end Greg Olsen, who was released in January by the Panthers after blossoming into a Pro Bowler with Cam. True, but Cam isn’t Greg Olsen, he’s the greatest player in Panthers history. So what is this disrespect really about?

Likely this: Cam had a Lisfranc foot injury in September when he never should have been playing in the first place after injuring his foot in preseason. He had surgery in December, is expected to be healthy, but depending on his recovery, it’s possible his future running ability could be impacted.

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In the final year of his contract, Cam deserved a chance to let us all find out with the best developed weapons of his career (see Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore).

3. Deshaun Watson

If there is any young black quarterback who should pay close attention to Cam Newton’s career, it’s the Texans’ Deshaun Watson. Cam’s best wideout was Steve Smith, and after their first three seasons of making magic, the Panthers let Smith go. Does this sound familiar, Deshaun?

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This week, Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien traded away the elite wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for “a ham sandwich,” in the words of Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin. Irvin also reported that through his conversation with Hopkins, O’Brien brought up Aaron Hernandez, and expressed to Hopkins that he didn’t like him having his “baby mamas” around sometimes. While I will leave it to Deadspin’s Carron Phillips to distill the racism of it all, the second victim here is Deshaun Watson because his coach prioritized his fragile white ego over winning football games.

Historically, Montana-to-Rice or Peyton-to-Marvin career tandems have been for white QBs only, and Deshaun-to-Deandre was poised to break that barrier. Comb through NFL history, and you will be hard-pressed to find a top black QB play with an elite wide receiver for more than two or three years. Ask Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick or Cam Newton about it.

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In the next five years after Smith, Cam’s new No. 1 wideouts were Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn, and Devin Funchess. Just because Cam went 15-1 with a trip to the Super Bowl with Ted Ginn as his Jerry Rice doesn’t mean Deshaun should have to replicate it.

Deshaun is poised to sign a new Texans contract. My advice? Don’t do it. Get out now.

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4. Jacoby Brissett

This is what Jacoby Brissett did in his first seven games last year:

  • 5-2 record with a 99.3 passer rating
  • 3 wins against playoff teams Titans, Texans, and Chiefs
  • 15 TDs (1 rushing) and 3 Interceptions

Brissett was a consummate, poised game manager until his injury in the 8th game. Then came injuries to Pro Bowl WR TY Hilton and Eric Ebron, this after four other receivers got injured during preseason.

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Do you judge Brissett, 27, with a healthy supporting cast, and see how he builds off that in a full year of health? Or do you blame him for a ravaged receiving corps? The Colts chose the latter.

After reports of initial trade talks to acquire Nick Foles, they signed the rapidly aging and declining Philip Rivers, 38, instead. Let’s compare their 2019 seasons:

  • Foles: 0-4 record with 84.6 pass rating; 23 yards rushing
  • Rivers: 5-11 record with 88.5 passer rating; 29 yards rushing
  • Brissett: 7-7 record with 88.0 pass rating; 228 yards rushing+ 4 TDs

Factor in Brissett’s rushing stats as passes and his rating jumps into the low 90s.

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The Colts did not stunt Brissett’s growth and opportunity for a chance to sign a legend like Tom Brady. No, they pursued older white QBs on the downside who sucked in 2019.

5. Jameis Winston

No one can blame the Bucs for taking a chance at Tom Brady, no matter his age. But many in the media are writing Winston’s NFL obituary or talking nonsense about him as a backup. And not for any ethical reason related to past sexual assault charges (as if NFL teams care), but strictly football reasons.

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You might have heard he threw 33 TDs and 30 interceptions last year, but especially the latter. You may have heard less chatter about the significance of Winston leading the NFL with 5,109 passing yards. Only four men in NFL history have thrown for more yards in a season:

  • Peyton Manning
  • Drew Brees
  • Tom Brady
  • Ben Roethlisberger

That’s it. In NFL history. Have you seen THAT list on Twitter?

Young Peyton Manning and Dan Marino were interception machines averaging 20 and 21 interceptions in their first five full seasons before cutting them down. Gunslinger Brett Favre never cut them down, and had over 20 INTs on six occasions in a yo-yo career. Favre had 24 at age 24, 29 at age 36, but a career low 7 at age 40. Huh?

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You can’t teach some of Winston’s throws. But you can cut down interceptions. Shouldn’t we perceive Winston’s great strengths and his modifiable flaws with the same developmental lens extended to white gunslingers?

And that’s the whole point.

We are only a few days into 2020 free agency and disrespect for black QB’s has been rampant. It takes zero NFL brain cells to see the historic greatness in Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson. All QBs have flaws, but when an entire NFL industry sees black flaws as permanent and white flaws as temporary, you have systemic racism.

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And it has to stop.

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