Atlanta – Bleacher Report owes Jemele Hill a big time apology for green-lighting a column written by an unknown and now no-longer-active columnist named Bill Aquaviva, that blasted her for even raising the issue of racism and black quarterbacks. Bleacher Report should send Hill a bottle of really expensive wine to make up for the time gone by.
In 2010, Jemele Hill, then the columnist for ESPN, asked this question: “Is race still an issue for NFL QBs?” And after examining the cases of then Oakland Raiders QB Jason Campbell, Six-time Pro Bowler Washington Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, and Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young, Hill, now a writer with The Atlantic, wrote the following:
In 2007, McNabb told HBO’s Real Sports that black quarterbacks in the NFL face more pressure and tougher criticism than white quarterbacks do. The responses were predictable: “Racism is not an issue in the NFL.Stop pulling the race card.Quit whining.”… But if you’ve paid attention to how some of the league’s black quarterbacks have been treated this season, McNabb’s words seem even truer now than they were three years ago…It still seems as if race is playing a role in how some black quarterbacks are treated, managed, perceived and, ultimately, judged… But if most of us agree that racism is still an issue in this country, how can we dismiss its influence in sports?
The answer to the last sentence, the question “But if most of us agree that racism is still an issue in this country, how can we dismiss its influence in sports?” is this: we can’t. Moreover, a 2015 study says so.
Race and Quarterback Survival in the National Football League, a 2015 study by Brian D. Volz, found that, even when controlling for various factors, black quarterbacks are twice as likely to be “benched”, or removed from play, than white quarterbacks. In other words, racism plays a giant factor in why, at mid-season, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston is a target of an overwhelmingly white media that is trying to push him out of the organization. And even with the fact that he’s the 7th best quarterback in the NFL. But we will get to that later, below.
The abstract of Dr. Volz study reads like this:
This study examines data from the 2001 to 2009 National Football League (NFL) seasons to determine whether Black quarterbacks face discrimination. When controlling for injury, age, experience, performance, team investment, backup quality, and bye weeks, Black quarterbacks are found to be 1.98–2.46 times more likely to be benched. Marginal evidence is also found that Black quarterbacks face less discrimination in areas with a larger percentage of Black residents. Additionally, it has been observed that when White quarterbacks are benched, the team improves by more than when Black quarterbacks are benched. This provides evidence that there is a cost to this discrimination.
Let’s focus on that observation…
White Quarterbacks Are Benched, The Team Improves By More Than When Black Quarterbacks Are Benched
It would seem that the recent case of Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson rests as a great example of the study’s conclusion that “when White quarterbacks are benched, the team improves by more than when Black quarterbacks are benched”. Short story: in 2018, the Ravens benched once-considered-elite-by-some-including-me quarterback Joe Flacco for Jackson, who this vlogger once said should be the first player taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, before the Ravens came to get him at the bottom of the 1st Round in Nashville.
Meanwhile, a number of NFL teams like the San Diego / LA Chargers, and media personalities like ESPN’s Mel Kiper, and not just ESPN’s Bill Polian, (who took an apology tour with USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell) said that Jackson should play wide receiver.
By the way, here’s Jarrett Bell and I talking about Jackson at the 2018 NFL Combine:
And in the case of Jameis Winston, here’s a question: do you know what his statistics have been over his career? Another story, short: Jameis Winston is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all-time passing leader with 1,365 attempts, 2,229 completions, for 17,035 yds and 104 touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference.
And how about this most recent outcome that, as of NFL Week 7, black quarterbacks lead all positions in “NFL Offensive Player of The Week” honors and for the first time in history? As the Buffalo Springfield song says “there’s something happening, here.”
With all of that…
Bleacher Report owes Jemele Hill A Big Time Apology
Yep. They let this dude, this no-good-it-would-seem guy who’s white, just plain drop bombs on Jemele Hill with a tone that was by turns disrespectful and condesending, and racist. Here’s a taste of what he wrote:
Boo hoo Jemele Hill.
Was your readership waning?
Or maybe your job is on the line?
No, wait, I know, you just wanted some more attention.
That must be it.
That has to be the reason you wrote your amateurish, ridiculous, attention-seeking article on ESPN.com looking for excuse after excuse of why certain black QBs were benched this season.
This kind of accusation simply drives me nuts—well nuttier anyway.
So, let me get this straight? The mere mention of the existence of racism drives him nuts? Wow. Too bad he didn’t get a load of me.
It’s episodes like what Hill has experienced that point to the need for a well-financed set of black media organizations. Blacks have the right to tell their own story without someone commonly white telling them that racism isn’t the problem.
Moreover, white female sports journalists should have rushed to Hill’s defense, and also taken up the call for racism against black quarterbacks to stop. But, the same women who call for better female representation in sports front office, are far too often silent when the subject of black men comes up.
Times Are Changing For NFL Black Quarterbacks And QB’s Of Color, And For The Better – Then There’s The NFL Draft
Meanwhile, times keep changing, for black quarterbacks, and for the better. But even then, there’s a question: will we see top college football black quarterbacks and quarterbacks of color like Justin Fields of Ohio State, Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma, and Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama get drafted high in the 2020 NFL Draft 1st Round in Las Vegas, or will the racist try, again, to devalue them to lower rounds?
If you don’t want the latter to happen, get off the sidelines, and make your feelings known to your favorite team, and on social media, often.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media