January 12, 2007

Black NFL quarterback update

One of the ironic side-effects of the vast 2003 brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh saying "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well" was that sporting press finally started to shut up about black quarterbacks just to prove Rush wrong.

There are still exceptions. For example, the New York Times ran an old-fashioned booster article before the college title game:

Acceptance Still Lags for Black Quarterbacks

"Monday night’s national title game, the first time in B.C.S. history that black starting quarterbacks have met in a game involving the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, is a milestone that should be celebrated not shunned."

But that's rarer these days after Rush's "gaffe."

Not surprisingly, there has been little coverage lately as black QB performance in the NFL has tailed off.

2006 was another unimpressive year for black quarterbacks in the NFL. Veteran Steve McNair had another solid season, throwing for the 14th most yardage of any NFL quarterback (and was also 14th in passer efficiency), leading Baltimore to an impressive 13-3 record. Donovan McNabb started the season very well, but was hurt for the last six games of the season. He still finished 20th overall in passing yardage (and 4th in passer rating). (His replacement, the aged Jeff Garcia, did just as well in efficiency.)

Then came Michael Vick at #22 in yards passing, but he did set a new record for quarterbacks by rushing for over 1000 yards. Rookie Vince Young was 26th, but also ran well, and was coming on very strong in the second half of the season. David Garrard was 30th.

McNair was the only black among the 12 starting quarterbacks in the playoffs, although McNabb's Philadelphia made it, but the Eagles had a better record after Garcia took over as the starting quarterback.

So, it's looking like the black quarterback boom is petering out, as every hot idea does in the NFL, sooner or later, as opponents figure out how to adjust to innovations, such as quarterbacks who are better runners. Black quarterbacks will likely continue to be common in the NFL, but only in numbers somewhat disproportionately more represented than their share of the overall U.S. population, not the wildly disproportionate numbers of blacks found at tailback or cornerback.

Still, an awful lot of teams would surely like to have LSU's strong-armed 6-6 260 JaMarcus Russell.

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


Steve Sailer said...

Among the top 41 quarterbacks in yardage passing, blacks accounted for 16%.

Anonymous said...


I don't have the link, but Rush Limbaugh himself mentioned an essay in a Philly paper last week, where the columnist said something to the effect that Philly would "lose its soul" if, based on Garcia's performance (and negative comments from other players), the Eagles don't start McNabb next year.

BTW, I don't know if you saw either of the Giants' last two games, but they must have the heaviest quarterback ever -- Jared Lorenzen. They put him in on a couple of fourth-and-ones to run sneaks. Lorenzen and Brandon Jacobs -- if they're ever put on the field at the same time -- would have the highest combined weight & height of any QB-TB combination.


Anonymous said...

Lorenzen is reminiscent of Florida's rising QB, Tim Tebow; it was remarkable to see Tebow be used as a throwing fullback, for lack of a better term. (Gator fans may wish to correct.)

I've noted the NYT sports page spends most of its time thinking about race and politics, it seems. I think it was nice that no one was talking about the 'two black QBs facing each other, etc.' It's also funny to note that both are not expected to be drafted high, although JaMarcus Russell is.

Finally, I think Steve may have missed the best black QB of the year: LaDanilian (sp?) Tomlinson.

Anonymous said...

eh, i'm losing interest in the NFL. the discrimination against white players has become blatant and obvious to me and some other serious fans. it's turning me off to a great sport and the king of television sports.

also, the double standard in how the media covers white and black players, and sadly, in how even some coaches treat white and black players, has become just plain ridiculous.

i've corresponded with steve about this before.

Anonymous said...

Bully for you. I stopped watching when Steve Largent retired.

Anonymous said...

"the discrimination against white players has become blatant and obvious"

There's too much competition in the NFL for really high levels of discrimination. There is some at the margins, but it's not a huge effect on the game. The running QBs thing is a little bit of a fad going through, but as Steve notes, it's probably fading and the failure of Vick will hasten that. Team management will not prop up a heavy affirmative action regime in this ultra-competitive environment.

Also note how the 'Rooney Rule' supposedly forcing all teams to interview a black head coach if they are filling a vacancy is basically ignored by most teams.
For example here's the Cardinals who probably already know they want to hire Mike Sherman but have to interview a black candidate.
Cards owner: Have you ever coached the Green Bay Packers to a playoff birth?
Black candidate: No
Cards owner: Ok thanks for coming, we'll be in touch.

"how the media covers white and black players"

The media coverage is a different story, obviously they are all about the affirmative action. But if you are a serious NFL fan as you say, then you already know that media coverage of the sport is abominable and have ceased paying attention to anything they say a long time ago. If you want fantastic unbiased coverage of the NFL go to footballoutsiders.com. There's a running joke there about how all white wide receivers are always referred to in the media as 'deceptively fast', 'good route runners', and 'great team players'.

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert on this, but I am a huge Texas Longhorn fan, and in my thoroughly biased opinion, the Titans would be in the playoffs if they had started Vince Young earlier in the season. Of course, that says a lot more about Vince Young than it does about anything else, but I won't get a better chance to say this in public, so . . . .

Anonymous said...

actually kitty, you may be right, but I think that says more about Kerry Collins than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Remember too that the most accomplished recent quarterback noted for his running speed is Steve Young. At the same time, it seems like the proportion of black starting offensive lineman is growing. Since Steve S. has described the documented Wunderlich advantage on the offensive line, it would seem that these positions swhould also attract the attention of the peculiar obsessions (QB and head coaches) of the sportwriters.

David W.

Anonymous said...

There truly are so many great matchups this year, you gotta love it!

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