Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jemele Hill Plays the Race Card, Logical Disjunction Ensues

I'm not wealthy with time right now so let me just highlight the grossest offenses in Jemele Hill's latest attempt to play the race card

On Sunday, Titans coach Jeff Fisher demoted Vince Young to benchwarmer after Young threw a tantrum following Tennessee's 19-16 loss to Washington. Although thumb surgery is the official reason Young's season is over, Fisher made it clear before he knew the severity of Young's injury that his 27-year-old quarterback was being removed as the starter...

I'm also not overlooking the facts that Campbell played poorly in the games in which he was benched, that Young's antics in Tennessee are largely to blame for his problems with Fisher, and that Shanahan has had difficult relationships with plenty of white quarterbacks in the past.
But it still seems as if race is playing a role in how some black quarterbacks are treated, managed, perceived and, ultimately, judged.

In other words: These quarterbacks were all benched for reasons that Occam's razor dictates have nothing to do with race. Therefore, it seems as if race is playing a role in how some black quarterbacks are treated, managed, perceived and, ultimately, judged.

The first time Campbell was benched this season was during halftime of the second game of the season.

The impatience the Raiders have shown with Campbell is stunning. They gave up a fourth-round pick to get him, and were convinced he was the answer after things went south with draft bust JaMarcus Russell, another black quarterback.

I would agree that the impatience the Raiders are showing with Campbell stands in contrast to the remarkable patience they showed with their last quarterback, JaMarcus Russell. JaMarcus, as his name suggests, is white. Thus, this is a pretty good point Jemele raises and a perfect example of the imbalance of treatment between black quarterbacks and white. I stand corrected.

Campbell will start on Sunday against Miami, but it's baffling that he's still fighting with Bruce Gradkowski -- whose career record as a starter is 5-11 -- for the No. 1 job.

Campbell's career record is 20-32. That's slightly better than Gradkowski, but Campbell played for slightly better teams than Gradkowski. And no, Gradkowski's not a good quarterback but neither has been Campbell this year.

The Raiders are fighting for a playoff spot this year, and say what you want about Al Davis being insane (Al Davis is insane) but a team with playoff aspirations isn't going to make a switch for any reason but on-field quality. Gradkowski is probably a worse QB than Campbell, which is why Campbell will probably get the start on Sunday. But he hasn't performed significantly worse this season, particularly in the last couple of games.

I know race doesn't completely explain the Raiders' treatment of Campbell or why he didn't work out for the Redskins. But Campbell's shortcomings are rarely clarified with the same perspective as some white quarterbacks

I have no idea what that last sentence means.

You hear about his 25-35 record as a starter, but you don't hear that he's played for a different offensive coordinator in every season since the Redskins drafted him in the first round in 2005.

He's certainly the only QB to have to overcome that hurdle.

Much like Campbell, those QB's were given a lot of opportunities with their original team until those teams finally came to the conclusion that these QB's were not really franchise QB's and moved on. All three quarterbacks have in common the fact that they were either white or black.

Most African-Americans are familiar with the notion that we have to be twice as good just to be considered equal with whites.

I didn't realize this was fait accompli. Perhaps in the white collar world this is true (although the multiplier might be off a little, Jemele) but I don't know how you can argue that black athletes aren't given a fair shake in professional sports.

And considering that there are only six black starting quarterbacks in the NFL, there isn't a lot of room for error.

QED! Clearly black QB's haven't gotten a fair shake throughout the history of the NFL, but I hardly think it's the NFL's fault that talented black QB's don't come around very often. When they do they're given every opportunity to succeed that a white QB with their draft status might expect (Josh Freeman, David Garrard, Byron Leftwich, Vince Young, Quincy Carter, Tavaris Jackson, hell, even Seneca Wallace) unless their team gets a better option. Is anyone really going to argue, for instance, that the Vikings pinning their hopes on Brett Favre was a race thing?

Fisher and Young had completely different accounts of what unfolded after Sunday's loss to the Redskins. Undoubtedly, Young didn't handle himself like a professional; but then again, I don't know of any quarterback who would be happy about being replaced by a third-stringer.

Young wanted to play despite a busted thumb. If Brett Favre had done that, we'd say he was being fiercely competitive.

But this is Vince Young, so he's being a brat.

Perhaps Vince Young's getting the bum's rush here. But I think the way it's generally going to read when an immature player who has quit on his team in the past has a temper tantrum is that the immature player is having a temper tantrum. It's hard to compare media treatment between black QB's and white QB's on this issue though because no one else has ever thrown this public a tantrum, including Brett Favre.

I don't question whether black quarterbacks receive opportunities in the NFL, because it's obvious they do. But how fair are those opportunities? Despite all the progress that's been made by black quarterbacks, why does it still seem as if they are held to a different standard?

Well, it's a fair question. But if your best examples of these QB's being held to different standards are Vince Young and Jason Campbell you're not going to make a compelling argument. Both players got more than a fair shake in the NFL.

"Any franchise Caucasian quarterback will get unlimited opportunities to realize their potential," says Shaun King, an African-American who quarterbacked the Tampa Bay Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in 1999. "If Jay Cutler left Chicago, and even if he played badly, he's always going to be viewed as a franchise QB. For African-Americans, their value is strictly tied to their current performance. It's tough to stick up for Vince Young because his immaturity has been a consistent issue, but a Caucasian QB that has been as successful as Vince Young wouldn't be pulled as much as him."

Ah, anecdotal bullshit! Certainly black QB's get jerked around. I don't deny that. But so do tons of white QB's. Brady Quinn and Derrek Anderson. JP Losman and Trent Edwards. Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton.

Basically, in the NFL, unless you're a top 5 draft pick, you will get jerked around.

I could write the exact same column Jemele did, only with Alex Smith, Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart and Kyle Orton as my examples of how white QB's don't get as many opportunities as Jason Campbell did. Only...that would be stupid. Really stupid.

People are still searching for ways to blame newcomer Terrell Owens for the Bengals' disappointing 2-8 season, even though Palmer has guided the Bengals to only two winning seasons and hasn't won a playoff game during his seven years in Cincinnati.

So why doesn't Palmer get the Jason Campbell treatment? Why isn't he labeled an underachiever like McNabb?

Palmer is getting the Campbell treatment by the media. And by the way, Palmer was once one of the best 5 QB's in the NFL. Certainly he seems to no longer be among the NFL's elite QB, but that might have something to do with the patience he's been shown. Donovan McNabb had a couple disappointing years at the end of his Eagles run and no one was champing at the bit to replace him. And he's black! :-o

Manning has a Hall of Fame résumé and is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the position. But he isn't facing an avalanche of criticism from the fans and media for the interception against the Patriots on Sunday that ended the Colts' comeback attempt and sealed the game for New England.

Manning accepted responsibility for the mistake, of course. But had that been McNabb, the reaction would have been downright vitriolic...

Palmer and Manning certainly have been criticized, but rarely in their careers have they faced the same microscope or backlash that McNabb, Vick, or most other black starting quarterbacks have.

Why hasn't Peyton Manning faced backlash ever in his career? Never has Manning been called a choker or a postseason failure. It's utterly baffling to me how the reigning MVP hasn't been called out as a loser after a single bad game in an otherwise excellent season!

McNabb, who despite being an 11-year veteran who has been to five NFC title games, had to listen to his coach essentially call him too out of shape and simpleminded to run his offense.

McNabb, by the way, has led 17 fourth-quarter comebacks and 25 game-winning drives in his career.

And he didn't know the rules for overtime in a game he plays professionally. Look, I'm not calling McNabb stupid. He's almost certainly not. I think nearly everyone acknowledges McNabb is an excellent QB. But this is just stupefying--there are hundreds of explanations for why Shannahan doesn't like McNabb--the most obvious probably being that McNabb hasn't been receptive to his son's coaching. That has very little to do with him being black. Or a quarterback--after all Shannahan got on Albert Haynesworth this offseason for being out of shape. Or maybe Shannahan's prejudiced against black DT's as well. Or just all black people ever. You never know! Glad we have Jemele Hill around to make these baseless accusations of racism, otherwise we'd never know who could conceivably be unapologetic racists, maybe, if you squint hard enough.

Her coup de grace:

if most of us agree that racism is still an issue in this country, how can we dismiss its influence in sports?

I don't think most people deny the presence of racialism in professional sports. Clearly the league recognizes the possibility of racial prejudice in coaching hires and everyone knows white superstars tend to be more marketable than black superstars in certain sports at certain positions.

But if you're going to make an argument about racism--unconscious or conscious--you better come with your gun loaded with better bullets than Jason Campbell and Vince Young.


Biggus Rickus said...

Really? She's comparing McNabb to Manning? Donovan McNabb is a good QB whose had a nice career and is probably in his decline. His best season in his career is basically an average year for Peyton Manning. Also, Mike Vick killed dogs. That might have something to do with the backlash he faced. But it's probably racism. I'm sure if a white QB ran a dog fighting kennel he'd get a pass.

Chris W said...


Larry B said...

Half the article clarifies what claims she's supposedly not making, because if she were making those claims, this would be the stupidest article ever written about race in sports.

The other half of the article is spent making those exact claims- most notably that Vince Young was benched for some reason other than the fact that he was acting like a 14 year old.

Classic Jemele.

First Name Last Initial said...

This is just outstanding work Chris W.

Elliot said...

And Josh Freeman is starting simply because he's the benefactor of affirmative action, and having an African-American coach. Nothing to do with the fact that he's proving all the people who passed him up on draft day wrong with his stellar play. It's the same damn argument.

Chris W said...

I hope that wasn't a response to anything I wrote in this post. I certainly think Josh Freeman deserved his shot and playing time every bit as much as any similarly drafted and performing white QB would. If I didn't make that clear, my apologies.

Elliot said...

Not at all Chris, it wasn't directed at you. I was saying that it's the co-argument to the one Jemele Hill is making in her article. She's saying that black QBs who aren't having great years are being treated unfairly because they're black, but Josh Freeman is having a great year under a black coach, and nobody is saying that those things are due to affirmative action--or anything at all related to race.

Sorry if I didn't make THAT clear.

dan-bob said...

Doesn't affirmative action policy (in an area like college admissions) suggest that blacks not only need not be twice as good as whites, but actually need not even be as good as whites?

Racism exists, racism is a problem, but that was a stupid thing to say.

CAPTCHA phrase for this post: duchedd

Elliot said...

I don't think you're understanding me Dan and Chris, but I hope you all have a nice thanksgiving.

Chris W said...

Nah, I gotcha Elliot. We cool. Just a day of mass confusion!

dan-bob said...

I wasn't directing my post to yours, Elliot. I was just sorta making a point.

Turkey for everyone!