There’s too much emphasis on White and not enough on win
The elephant in the middle of the sports living room is back: another round of a decreasing number of Black quarterbacks (irrespective of RGIII, the phenomenal Black quarterback of the Washington Redskins). Sports columnists in this paper periodically hint at it in terms of Minnesota. Time to put it front and center.
Vikings Joe Webb and Gopher MarQueis Grey are highly skilled Black quarterbacks with tremendous talents being underutilized. Let’s talk about it.
Two years ago, after Bret Favre was injured, Joe Webb and Adrian Peterson carried the Vikings on their backs. Who can forget Webb’s performance in the victory over the Philadelphia Eagles? Then came the NFL draft the following spring.
Vikings first-round draft choice: Christian Ponder, an excellent college quarterback from Florida State University. Immediately, White Minnesota sports writers and broadcasters proclaimed him as the second coming of such White wonders as Bret Favre, Fran Tarkington and Johnny Unitas.
Joe Webb’s snaps last season were significantly reduced. They did put him in some wildcat packages. And a couple of times they tried to make a wide receiver out of him.
A pause to note two things: First, we understand first-rounders and the money they are paid often necessitates playing them before they are ready. The test is over. Ponder isn’t ready.
Secondly, always play the best players, regardless of color. This is not a civil rights rant, nor a call for affirmative action, nor a call for some kind of idiotic quota system. Those who accuse me of that haven’t read my books and columns nor heard my radio nor seen my TV show. This is about the fans getting the best players playing so their teams have the best chance to win.
As I wrote in my November 7, 2012 column on the Timberwolves, “Play the best players, whether all White, all Black or a combination.” Race only comes in play where “Great White Hope” thinking is in play, the desire to win with Whites, not Blacks.
Last year’s Vikings won a total of three games under Ponder. This year, after a 5-2 start the schedule caught up with them, going 1-4 in the last stretch.
Has Coach Leslie Frazier been told that no matter how much the Vikings slide, Ponder must be his quarterback of the future? I just hope that after they finish 6-10 with Ponder at quarterback, Leslie Frazier, for whom I have great respect, still has a job.
Now let’s talk about how poorly the University of Minnesota is utilizing MarQueis Grey, who UM admits is “one of the most highly regarded dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.” The unspoken rule: a winning injured quarterback gets his starting job back when he returns.
Grey has returned from injury after leading the Gophers to a 4-0 start. So why isn’t he starting again?
For three years, the White media in this town, who criticized Joe Webb, equally criticized MarQueis Grey, implying that neither African American had the intellectual skills or a deep enough intellectual knowledge of the game to be a winning quarterback in control of games, despite their obvious records to the contrary. At play, as with the Timberwolves, is Minnesota White sports media thinking about the wrong “w,” thinking White and not win.
And please, let’s dispense with all the fluff about how much they love Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, and Dante Culpepper. Even at the top of their game there was always some harping criticism of their lacking the intellect, the smarts, and the gifts to control and win games, despite their winning. In the case of Joe Webb, with Ponder the designated future, waive Webb and allow him to catch on with a team that appreciates his intelligence and skills.
The Star Tribune famously published a 21-day series on race in Minnesota in June 1990. Key sentences: “The Twins are burdened by a history of racism.” “…the Gopher program has ignored the contributions of the minority community.” “When it comes to the Vikings, a hidden resentment in the minority community boiled over last year…”
The cover of Mpls/St.Paul magazine, January 1990: “I’m not racist, but…. ‘Nice’ Minnesotans don’t talk about it, but the ugly fact is that racism is alive — and growing — in the Twin Cities.”
Another clue: Most coaches are former players. The majority of players are Black. The vast majority of coaches are White.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.