Friday, September 16, 2022

Can a Black Quarterback Pave the Way for Black Coaches in the NFL? , CBC Sports

When 11 black quarterbacks started an NFL game in Week 1, it was another sign that those racial stereotypes have finally been dispelled.

While there is a constant lack of diversity among general managers and coaches, four of the five biggest contracts in the sport have been awarded to Black QBs – including Deshan Watson’s fully guaranteed $230 million US deal from the Cleveland Browns. Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray received the other three. Lamar Jackson is next in line to join that group.

Black QBs – Cam Newton, Mahomes and Jackson – have won three of the last seven NFL MVP awards. In the last 11 drafts, 11 of the 33 quarterbacks drawn in the first round were Black.

But it’s been a long, arduous journey since Fritz Pollard became the first black QB to play in the NFL in 1923.

“There has been a traditional and historical underrepresentation of black quarterbacks in the league due to various myths and lies,” NFL executive Troy Vincent told the Associated Press. “At the start of this 2022 season, 11 black quarterbacks are not only leading NFL clubs, but are demonstrating their ability to win. There is no doubt how normalized this situation is at both the collegiate and professional levels. Has gone.”

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, seen above warm up before a game in 2021. Three of the last seven NFL MVP awards have gone to black quarterbacks, including Newton. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Despite the increase in black quarterbacks and black executives, who represent about 40 percent of the league’s working team, the increase in diversity is not reflected on the sidelines. There are only four Black head coaches in 2022: Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh, Lavi Smith of Houston, Todd Bowles of Tampa Bay and Mike McDaniel of Miami, who are biracial.

It took nearly 100 years for Pollard to break the QB race barrier by making 11 starts, and it’s unclear how long it will take for Black coaches to make that leap.

On whom does the decision fall?

Those decisions fall on the owners.

The league hires executives. Owners can have opinions on general managers and coaches.

It took decades for QBs to become the new normal.

Along the way, Doug Williams became the first Black QB to win the Super Bowl since the 1987 season. Wilson and Mahomes joined him over the past nine years.

Michael Vick was the first Black QB selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 draft. Steve McNair became the first Black QB to win the MVP in 2003.

All those QBs and many others have dealt with many stereotypes. Some still do.

Jackson said a scout for the Los Angeles Chargers asked him to run Root at the NFL Combine in 2018. They declined. The Baltimore Ravens picked him in the 2018 draft with the 32nd pick. He was the MVP in his second season.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is seen on the sidelines during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Tomlin is one of the four Black Head coaches in the NFL. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Donovan McNab said college scouts told him to play running back or wide receiver. He will not change positions. 2 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and led the team to five NFC Championship games in 11 seasons.

“Center, quarterback, wide receiver were the last places to integrate into the National Football League,” Vincent said. “Why? Because someone said they were thinking and black QBs didn’t have qualifying, football IQs.”

While that unwarranted criticism is no longer widely heard, it has not been erased. It also seeps through when a critic says a black quarterback can’t read coverage or doesn’t understand the playbook.

Coaches seem to have evolved beyond that stereotype. Teams just want to win and it doesn’t matter who is at the center, as evidence of the contract Brown gave Watson despite facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

“It’s the evolution of the game, and it’s the coaches who have realized that not only can these men win, they are dynamic and they can lead and they are winning at a high clip,” Vincent said. “There isn’t a kid across the country that’s a person of color who doesn’t believe he can’t be a quarterback because they’re everywhere and they’re winning championships.”

Among the coaches that Black QBs rely on is Andy Reid. From McNab to Vic to Mahomes, Reid has made Black QB debuts in 272 of 406 games during his 24-year career with the Eagles and Chiefs.

“It’s a great example that these guys can lead,” Vincent said of the black QB’s numbers. “The odds were a myth.”

It’s time for owners to accept that Black GMs and coaches can take the lead, too.

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