May 11, 2005

The White Michael Vick:

For years, football coaches attempted to convert black quarterbacks to wide receivers, defensive backs, or other less prominent positions where the black quarterbacks' typically greater athleticism made them more of a sure-thing at making the team than at quarterback, but now the tide has turned. For example, the phenomenally gifted Atlanta QB Michael Vick was recently given the biggest contract in the NFL even though he has yet to prove he has NFL-quality accuracy as a thrower.

Now, it's white quarterbacks who are getting short-changed.

Perhaps the most phenomenal athlete in this year's NFL draft was Arkansas's 6'-6" 242 lb. quarterback Matt Jones who rushed for over 2,500 yards in college (6.6 yards per carry) and threw for 5,800 yards (55% completion rate) and 55 touchdowns with 30 interceptions. He ran a 4.37 40 yard dash, comparable to the most reliable reported time for Vick of 4.36 (although there is a lot of speculation about Vick being faster than that). Jones has a 39.5 inch vertical leap. He was also a starter on Arkansas's basketball team. His Wonderlic score was a little low for a quarterback (19 or IQ of 98) but not atrocious. And he made the honor roll while playing Division 1-A football and basketball, which is impressive.

Jones doesn't have Vick's rocket arm, but he is a half-foot taller which means he can see over huge linemen much better.

But, Jones is white, so in the post-season collegiate all star games, he played as a receiver, where he dazzled scouts with his hands. One observer compared him to USC's awesome Mike Williams, saying Jones is taller, heavier, faster, and has better hands.

Of course, wide receiver is mostly a black position, so lots of NFL guys tried to talk Jones into playing tight end, a position where whites are more common. Chris Mortensen of ESPN wrote:

"You know, it's funny," one AFC head coach told me last week. "We asked [Jones] about putting on some weight and playing tight end, and he made it clear that he thought it was foolish. He said, 'So you want me to put on 20 pounds and be a 4.57 guy instead of a 4.37 guy?' When you put that into context, you have to admit he makes sense.

Still, why not take a chance on this guy turning into a run and pass quarterback in the mold of Vick and Donovan McNabb? If he was black, there'd be an outcry against turning him into a receiver as racial prejudice in action, but because he's white, it's simply assumed that he can't run well enough to be adequate at QB until he learns how to be a good passer (just as McNabb didn't become a really good passer until last season, his sixth in the league, and Vick isn't there yet).

*

Caste Football has some irritable but interesting reflections on the draft.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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