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The Saga Of The Black Quarterback

By / 01.09.09

As a lifelong New Orleans Saints fan, I’ve become quite accustomed to not having a team to root for this time of year. Though my boys are usually gone by December, I tend to find myself rooting intensely for some team when the playoffs role around — that team is always the one with the Black quarterback. My father went to Dillard University and I was raised near Jackson State University, so we have both been immersed in a culture that has celebrated the Black quarterback. NFL and BCS teams haven’t always been as enthused by the concept; successful, heavily recruited candidates being few and far between, for the most part.

Aside from perhaps the hockey goalie, the Black quarterback is one of the last frontiers of major sports. The fact that the quarterback is responsible for the cerebral field has historically made general managers and coaches hesitant to put the keys in the hands of an African-American who is characterized as merely a instinctual athlete good for running out of the pocket, with questionable accuracy and limited ability to think on his feet.

Doug Williams won the Super Bowl with the Redskins a couple decades ago, but he was dropped from the starting line-up the next season, making his win seem more like a one-time deal than a sign of progression. Then in the late ’90s there seemed to be an influx of Black quarterbacks invading the league. Cunningham almost gave the Vikings a perfect season in 1998 that ended prematurely. McNair led the Titans to within one yard of the Super Bowl victory. By the time Michael Vick rolled through the league, Black QB fever was sweeping the NFL. It seemed apparent that there would be multiple Black quarterbacks that would soon have championship rings in their respective collections.

Suddenly, the Black quarterback bubble burst. Vince Young had his breakdown earlier this season, taking him out of the Titan’s starting line-up so he could watch from the sidelines as his team took the best record in the NFL. Jamarcus Russell is a bust in Oakland. Daunte Culpepper couldn’t get a job for most of the season and when he finally did, he only helped cement the Detroit Lions’ place in the history books. Then of course there’s Michael Vick’s situation. Similar to the stock market, NFL scouting is based on trends and the Black QB’s stock has plummeted over the last year in a way that will be hard to bounce back from.

So I watch the playoffs this year hoping that the long shot, Donovan McNabb will lead the Eagles to an improbable win. Some people may think that I’m living in the past, rooting for a Black quarterback champion in an era with a Black President. And they may be right. Still, I am unashamed and unrelenting in my excitement.

Good luck, Donovan, you may be my last great hope for a long time.

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TAGSDONOVAN MCNABBDoug WilliamsJemarcus RussellMP3sMusicNFLSMOKE BREAKSPORTSTennesse TitansVINCE YOUNG

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