Would You Want To Trust Your NFL Franchise To A Black Quarterback?

Quarterbacks tend to be the most highly paid position in the NFL because the play of your starting quarterback, more than anything else, will usually determine how well your team does.

NFL contracts typically run for many years so a starting NFL quarterback today is usually earning over $8 million per year with a contract guaranteed for many years.

All things being equal, who do you think is more likely to be hard-working and responsible? A black or a white quarterback? We have plenty of NFL history in which to judge that question.

Samuel G. Freedman writes for The New Yorker, Jan. 29, 2014:

There are reasons why the last four positions to be desegregated in pro football were the four with the most decision-making responsibility: free safety, middle linebacker, center, and quarterback.

First, quarterback is surely the most cerebral position in sports. So, for a mid-century America still largely convinced of black intellectual inferiority, no black athlete could possibly play the position. Second, the quarterback is, to use the cliché, the “field general,” leading troops and giving orders. In an America that saw the role of blacks as following commands, and certainly never delivering them to whites, no black player could possibly lead a team. Finally, to be a quarterback is to possess those ineffable traits of character—work ethic, poise under pressure, resilience after even a devastating mistake. But black quarterbacks were invariably described as “natural athletes.” While that term may sound like a compliment, it evokes the venerable racist iconography of blacks as animals: monkeys, apes, jungle predators, all of them operating on mindless reflex alone.

Over the thirty-seven seasons since James Harris excelled with the Rams, these stereotypes have largely abated, though they have not vanished altogether. During Donovan McNabb’s stellar career with the Eagles, Rush Limbaugh declared that the quarterback was overrated because he was black. In football chatter, it is almost always white quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, of the Patriots, who are extolled for their study habits and on-the-field analysis. Meanwhile, discussions of Kaepernick focus on the direction of his baseball cap and the number of his tattoos.

Steve Sailer provides more intelligent commentary:

The Limbaugh firing was back early in the 2003 season (here’s my VDARE article at the time). Since then we’ve had twelve more seasons of statistics to disprove Limbaugh’s Heresy. And football statistics have improved dramatically since then in quality. (Here are 2014′s best NFL quarterbacks using two different state of the art methodologies.)

Yet what do we find? That 2003 was perhaps the high point for black quarterbacks in the NFL.

For example, ESPN has calculated their QBR system back for nine seasons through 2006. Just glancing at the top ten all around NFL quarterbacks over the last nine seasons, by this metric 10 of the 90 spots have been filled by blacks.

Since 2003′s apogee, blacks have been represented at QB in the NFL roughly in proportion to their share of the population. But that’s not enough for the Freedmans of the sporting press. It’s not about equality or proportionate representation, it’s about Who? Whom?

Here are some good comments to Steve Sailer:

* I was wondering if Steve would notice how 2014 seemed to be the season of the white QB. Another knock on black QBs, now that we have a real sample size, seems to be career life span. Even the best black QBs (McNabb, Vick, McNair) seem to have 5 or 6 good years then decline incredibly quickly. Compare that to the Mannings/Brady/Roethlisberger/Brees/Rivers, all of whom have been good to great for more than a decade each. Rogers and Luck very much seem in the same mold as those guys, while Kaepernick is already burning out. And look at how quickly Josh Freeman went from potential superstar to washed up back-up. Seems like if you are trying to build a franchise around a long term solution you probably want the dependable white guy, even if it is Andy Dalton, over a more athletically talented but less disciplined candidate.

* One reason for the black QB decline in the NFL is the proliferation of option offenses. You don’t have to be particularly smart or disciplined to run them, just athletic. Anymore, a lot of the college game is simply predicated on who has the most talent. Only at the upper stratosphere of colleges where talent is somewhat equal does coaching play a big part. But, that doesn’t translate into NFL success where the talent differential is pretty flat.

Right after Urban Meyer left BGSU, one of his recruits started a quarterback and played for three years as starter before getting drafted by Pittsburgh. He has a good college career but was incapable of understanding an NFL playbook. He went from the team to the practice squad. He was cut a couple of weeks after that.

* Even the plausible case of Warren Moon isn’t that plausible. A legend has grown up about how he was scandalously overlooked in the NFL draft, but here are his stats for his junior and senior years at Washington:

Year /Comp/Att/Comp %/Passing Yds/TD/INT


By his senior year, he was a very good – but by no means great – college quarterback. The Husky Rose Bowl team that beat Michigan went 7-4 that year, backing into the Rose Bowl when USC kicked a late field goal to upset UCLA, which had beaten the Huskies earlier that year. The focal point of the Husky offense was tailback Joe Steele, who finished the year as the Huskies’ all-time rushing leader.

Not getting drafted and playing in Canada was the best thing that could have happened to Warren Moon. The pass-happy CFL made Moon into the great pro quarterback he became. He also had the good fortune to play for his CFL coach, Hugh Campbell, when he landed in Houston, so he already knew the offensive scheme and fit in immediately. Had he been drafted right out of the UW he would have spent a couple of years carrying the clipboard and signaling plays to the starter, and probably been out of football within five years.

Warren Moon is a Husky Legend and hero. New Year’s Day 1978 will always be a cherished memory for me, but we shouldn’t let his eternal chipped shoulder obscure reality.

* Robert Griffin III has been an unmitigated disaster the last two years after his 2012 breakout. He can’t read defenses, can’t make pre-snap adjustments, he takes sacks constantly instead of throwing the ball away, he refuses to run read option plays that average about 5-6 yards a play and he is apparently a jerk in private to his teammates.

Jay Gruden is trying to run him out of town to replace him with the very average Colt McCoy. I had the pleasure of watching fat Donovan Mcnabb for a season as well and the only thing Robert and Donovan have in common is their resistance to coaching and learning a playbook.

The future stand out QB’s will be Carr in Oakland and Bortles in Jacksonville.

* Anyone notice the ethnic background of the Florida State Seminoles when they got clobbered by Oregon in the Rose Bowl? They started 21 blacks and one white. No Hispanics or Asians. I know there are a lot of black people in Florida, but I don’t think they make up anywhere near 95.45% of the population, so it appears they are grossly over represented on the Seminole team. No Native Americans either, in spite of the nickname. If you had a team that was 95% white, even from a majority white state, there would be screams of discrimination from the media, and President Obama would turn Eric Holder loose on them.

I know, Rev. Sharpton would counter that you can’t get much more diverse than a team that is 95.45% black, but I would like to see a truly diverse team, maybe like the one fielded by the Oregon Ducks. And the diverse Ducks kicked the nearly uniracial Seminoles’ tails.

* The NFL quarterback is not just the on field leader of his team, he is the off field marketing leader too and an NFL team is a business that depends on selling very expensive tickets to fans. Black QB’s , like other black players, have tended to have behavior problems that affect their value to a team above and beyond the team W-L ratio.

An owner, indeed the NFL, has a problem when a team is led by a QB who is arrested for torturing dogs like Michael Vick, guzzles narcotic cough syrup like JaMarcus Russell, is arrested for brawling in a strip club like Vince Young,etc.. I recall reading that when the Carolina Panthers owner met his new QB Cam Newton he remarked to Newton, ‘nice haircut’, meaning he was pleased to not have a rope haired RG 3 or tattooed freak like Colin Kaepernick as the representative of his team.

* I’m going to ask two football trivia questions to illustrate a point.

1) Of all NFL quarterbacks who started 16 games in a season, who was sacked the MOST times?

2) Of all NFL quarterbacks who started 16 games in a season, who was sacked the FEWEST times?

The answer is completely counter-intuitive. Most fans would think that some big, stiff white guy was sacked the most times and that a swift, mobile black QB was sacked the fewest times. In reality, the starting QB who was sacked the fewest times in a season was… big, stiff, slow, white Dan Marino (just 7 sacks in 1988)! And the quarterback who was sacked the most times in a season was speedy black Randall Cunningham (sacked 104 times in 1986)!

People often assume that the best way to avoid being sacked is to run away from pass rushers. WRONG! The best way to avoid being sacked is to make fast reads and get rid of the ball in a hurry. Dan Marino excelled at that. Randall Cunningham often relied on his speed too much, and kept running around when he should have thrown the ball away. He’d elude one pass rusher, maybe two, but then get taken down behind the line.

That’s not a failing unique to black quarterbacks. White Johnny Manziel has the same problem. He ran for a lot of yards in college, but that was often because he couldn’t read defenses well, and took off running whenever he couldn’t see an open receiver immediately. You can get away with that in college, but in the NFL, ALL the defenders are fast.

* Astorian, you are exactly correct. Cam Newton has led the league in number of times sacked in last 3 years with a whopping 467 sacks taken. This is double the next closest quarterback.

Running quarterbacks (especially black quarterbacks) tend to take way too many sacks for the reasons you cited – not getting rid of the damn ball.

Today’s NFL quarterback position now has a strong cognitive component that requires IQ to sustain a long number of successful seasons, partly due to the ability of defensive coordinators to study tapes and change coverage schemes. The position requires constant learning.

* Peyton Manning, who is now very slow, seldom gets sacked. Aaron Rodgers, who is a decent running quarterback, gets sacked more. But Rodgers throws fewer interceptions than Manning. The best quarterbacks trade off sacks v. interceptions. Rodgers might not throw 100 interceptions in his whole career. But he does get sacked a lot more than Peyton Manning, twice in the 50s in one season, while Manning has been sacked more than 21 times in a season in a decade.

* What is the significance of the fact that the starting quarterback for each of of the four teams in the college football playoff semi-finals is black — Winston, Mariota, Sims, and Jones.?

I haven’t seen any commentary on this.

If the NFL is prejudiced against starting black quarterbacks, why is college football more enlightened?

28Sherman tried to come up with the top five black NFL quarterbacks of all time:

2. Donovan McNabb – McNabb carried an Iggles offense that had no good wide receivers until they brought in Terrell Owens (who selfishly destroyed the team’s 2005 title chances), had an okay TE, and a rushing attack that was so-so until Brian Westbrook roided up to carry the ball 200+ times a season. McNabb was frustrating to watch because he was a great deep thrower, but his intermediate stuff was rough, which pulled his completion % down. The guy seemed to have no real touch on his passes, and everything from a 50 yard deep post to a 5 yard slant was thrown at 99 mph. John Madden said that when McNabb missed WRs, you knew no one, receiver or defender, could catch it. Once the Iggles surrounded him with some actual receivers, his numbers got better, but he couldn’t stay healthy. It wasn’t like McNair, who took a beating, but more just odd things. McNabb tore tendons, ligaments, odd muscles, etc. It was a sports news item the year he showed up late in his career (contract extension season) 25 lbs lighter. He was 31-32, not 37-38. He should’ve been in great shape. McNabb was also his own worst enemy, as he didn’t rehab thoroughly, gained weight, and wasn’t a game film junkie. He accused Shanahan and the Redkins of being a bit racial by treating him poorly, yet when he went to Minnesota, he pulled the same crap. I liked McNabb and felt Philly fans were ungrateful shits to him. Still, it seemed weird how he got the yips in big spots, or how he seemed to hyperventilate and threw up in playoff games when the Iggles needed him the most.

1. Warren Moon – Was there any doubt? I could not even find five other black NFL QBs I would classify as great. Moon was a Hall of Fame QB who did deal with actual discrimination when he tried to break into the NFL. He went to Canada after NFL teams wanted him to change positions, rocked it there, and then started in the NFL at 28. Kevin Gilbride designed a great system for Moon in Houston, Moon executed it well, and Moon was great for several years. He stayed productive well into his 30s, and had some good years in Minnesota (pre-Randy Moss effect) and even a good year in his 40s. He did slap around his wife, after winning the NFL Man of the Year award, and his Hall of Fame selection felt like a PC sports writer accomplishment. An NFL fan could name twenty five white quarterbacks they would take ahead of Moon, which reveals just how odd the lack of great black quarterbacks is. Considering the competition, he’s the best black quarterback of all time.

Steve Sailer writes: “It remains fascinating that after decades of Establishment campaigning for more black quarterbacks in the NFL, year after year we wind up with results like this, with Russell Wilson, last year’s Super Bowl winner, the only black quarterback to be clearly in the league’s elite.”

Comments to Sailer:

* With fine motor control — pitching a baseball, throwing a football, hitting a golf ball, etc — it’s all about reproducibility.

The more you can do the exact same movement every time, the better off you are. Because you can correct flaws. You can figure out what’s wrong, figure out what’s right, and do the exact same motion each time.

With fine motor control, blacks often have too much random error in their movements. Impossible to correct the problem. Not an accident that an all-time great shooter like Ray Allen, who is black, has mild OCD.

Obviously some blacks have elite fine motor control, just a lower % than with whites and asians. In NFL and NBA other skills often make up for that.

There’s also a lot of mixed-race black guys who combine black athleticism with white fine motor control. Stephen Curry, for example, who’s probably only a quarter black.

Half and quarter black athletes seem incredibly over-represented in elite sports compared even to black athletes. I thought only 20% of blacks were 50% or more white. That’s only a few % of the population, yet highly represented. Russel Wilson being one of them. The most successful “black” QBs in recent years have only been 25-50% black. Wilson, Kaepernick.

* Black quarterbacks tend to have a spectacular season (or two at most) and then flame out in epic fashion before finishing their careers in wildly inconsistent fashion as turnover producing machines (Michael Vick is exhibit A for this phenomenon).

And even when black quarterbacks go on winning streaks they still don’t really throw many actual touchdown passes. AFAIK, only Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Dante Culpepper are black NFL quarterbacks who have thrown for 30+ TD passes in a year, and none of those guys did it more than twice. In contrast, both Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo already have 4 seasons of 30+ TD passes, Tom Brady has 5 and Drew Brees has done accomplished that for 7 straight years.

Michael Vick’s high in TD passes for a season is a paltry 21. Neither Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick nor Robert Griffin 3 have even thrown for 25 TD passes in a season yet, either.

* Steve, have you looked at the wonderlic scores by position?


“the average score of a NFL player according to position is the following:

Offensive tackle – 26
Center – 25
Quarterback – 24
Guard – 23
Tight end – 22
Safety – 19
Linebacker – 19
Cornerback – 18
Wide receiver – 17
Fullback – 17
Halfback – 16″

I think we could do a pretty nice white to black gradient with this data.

* What about the increase of quality white wide receivers in the NFL over the last decade or so?

By the mid-to-late eighties, it seemed as though WR was on its way to becoming an exclusively back position (along with tailback and cornerback).

The entire decade of the 90s produced only three WRs that even die hard football fans would recognize by name -Wayne Chrebet, Ed McCaffrey, and Ricky Proehl.

There are more good WRs who are white guys in the NFL right now- Jordy Nelson (91 catches, 1,519 yards, 13 touchdowns) Wes Welker (5 seasons with 100+ catches and 1000+ yards), Eric Decker (74, 962, 5), Julian Edelman (92, 972, 4), and Riley Cooper (55, 577,3)
Add receiving tight ends to the mix and you also have Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olson, Jason Witten, and Travis Kelce.

While certainly not an even split, it’s a curious trend nonetheless.
Did white guys get faster?
Did rule changes protecting receivers over the middle of the field benefit big white guys who are only a step slower than their black competitors?
Did NFL scouts lessen their bias against white players competing at positions where conventional wisdom says you need black guys if you expect to win?

* The numbers of black QBs at the high school and college level continues to grow. And truthfully they do a pretty good job of it. That is because the high school/college game is much much different from the NFL game.

In the NFL game if you cannot hurt the defense by throwing from the pocket, then you will not get much playing time.

In the college game, everything is much simpler, and a running QB makes more sense because the defenses are not as good at hitting the QB. Truthfully, if I were a college or high school FB coach, I would prefer a black qb. It is easier to find a strong, athletic, QB with a good arm who is black than it is to find the right white QB and develop him. It takes time to develop that tall white QB who can pick apart defenses from the pocket. Why spend all that time and effort when you can just find a decent black QB who can run and pass, but who cannot really pick apart a defense from the pocket? You don’t really need to do that in high school or college. Compared to the tall white pocket QB, a black qb who has a strong arm and can run is a dime a dozen. Find one and simplify the offense.

To reach the top of the NFL game requires intelligence, mental discipline and a grinding work ethic, and other things, too.

Black QBs can often do OK for the first few games or even for a year or two, but once the other teams get enough video of him, they can almost always shut him down.

But intelligence, mental discipline and a grinding work ethic? That is kryptonite to almost all blacks.

The black qbs that do succeed past the first couple of NFL years of their career are either about half white (Russell Wilson) or they have freakish physical gifts (Cam Newton, Donovan McNabb).

The problem is that even for the NFL it takes time to develop those tall white QBs who can pick you apart from the pocket. And most do not pan out. That can kill a coaching career. That is why the NFL drafts so many black qb’s even though almost all the top QBs in the NFL are white.

* I often wonder if the NFL will end up with a really smart commissioner who realizes that whites have an endurance advantage and makes subtle rule changes to speed up the game (based on the completely plausibly deniable idea that a whiter NFL will have more non-black fans).

* College football coaches as well as pro coaches and scouts are, for the most part, anti-White. Barry Switzer, former NFL and college coach, recently said he’d never have a white quarterback on his team (he forgot about Troy Aikman). Other coaches have made similar quotes that if made against any group but Euro-Americans would result in an automatic firing. Watch Mark Wahlberg’s movie “Invincible” to get a small picture of what goes on in American football.

* There does seem to have been a rise in white WRs in the last decade. The big white TE is quite common, but the small quick white WR is more common in 2014 than I would have predicted 20 years ago. Their skill set seems to rely on running ultra-precise short routes, quick slants and the like. Precision, timing, and good hands.

The deep ball star WR — tall, lanky, fast and able to jump — seems exclusively black.

I think the rules limiting defense have opened a space for some of these white WRs to compete better. Not sure how exactly.

* You can just look a Wilson to see how much euro descent he has. If he’s more than 50% black it’s just barely. His hair and facial features aren’t very African. His father appears to be less black than the son.

Remember, in America, people with more than about 30% of African ancestry tend to ID as black. Recent study had the cut-off line at 28% Wilson’s farther appears to be less than half black and his mom more than half and he’s probably around half. The picture I saw of Wilson’s grandpa is a very light-skinned black guy — classic NAACP leadership from that era light-skinned.

* Ol guys tend to either be white or very intelligent regardless of race. You have to concentrate to understand snap counts, blacking schemes, memorize plays and assignments, work out like crazy, et al. There are exceptions like Michael Oher of “The Blind Side” fame. Even black guys who play OL tend to come from privileged backgrounds. Jonathan Ogden, who figures to get into the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible, is the son of an attorney, as is Jonathan Martin. You do have yahoo knuckle headed white guys like Richie Incognito or Kyle Turley, but they are increasingly the exception. In the 1970s the San Diego Chargers did a study of the kinds of personalities that are found at the various positions. It corresponds closely to this wonderlic data.

* Offensive lineman are now getting taller because it’s important to have long arms and big hands so that you can hold the defensive player at range to control him better. As a blocker, if the defensive player has already gotten into your body he can knock you down easier. You don’t want want a “bowling ball” offensive lineman who’s only strong and stumpy, you want someone who can leverage a defender backwards off the line from a distance and who can occasionally move down the line and lead out in front of a runner proceeding downfield.

Hand size, wingspan and joint size are now measured and analyzed very carefully by NFL scouts.

* Not only are the best ten to fifteen QBs in the game white, so too are a majority of the best TEs (Gronk, Witten, Miller, Ertz) and slot receivers (Welker, Edelman, Beasley). The fastest receiver, and maybe one of the fastest players in the league is a white guy from Kansas (Jordy Nelson, Green Bay).

But the best player in the game, and should-be winner of this year’s MVP award is JJ Watt, who plays a position normally dominated by black guys (defensive end), and dominates it.

* If any professional sport in the U.S was predominantly Jewish, it would be the sport with the least amount of players who go broke after retiring.

On average nobody is better than the Jews when it comes to delaying instant gratification in regards to money. Jews with poor impulse control regarding their own personal money is about as common as Blacks who have light eyes, meaning not very common.

* You see very few if any marginal white players at the typically black “skill” positions. Jordy Nelson and Eric Decker are the only two white “deep threat” receivers in the NFL. Nelson is one of the 3 or 4 best wideouts in the game and has been elite on a consistent basis for many seasons now. Decker is not among the first tier receivers but certainly makes the top 15. On the other hand, there are 40 to 50 completely anonymous, mediocre black receivers in the league.

If whites are so unsuited to playing wide receiver, you’d expect the only white guys good enough to make it as a pro to linger in the fringes, barely hacking it in the league. Yet the opposite is true: there are no mediocre white wide receivers, only stars. This certainly seems to imply that there is discrimination against whites at the wide receiver position: in order to make it as far as the NFL, a white dude doesn’t have to merely be as good as the average black dude who made it that far: he has to be far superior.

Or look at defensive end. We currently have JJ Watt, Jared Allen (at the end of his rope but had an amazingly productive career) , Connor Barwin, Paul Kruger, and that’s more or less it. All of those guys are to a greater or lesser degree superior to your average (ie black) NFL defensive end. Where is the mediocre (by NFL standards) white defensive end? Between getting a scholarship at a top college program and getting invited to the NFL combine, he never even sniffed getting a chance to play in the NFL, whereas many black athletes of similar talent are playing as we speak.

* The 2014 All-Pro teams were just released…

Fully 15 of the 26 first and second team offensive players are white, with 8 of 29 (if you count Watt twice, he made 2nd team as defensive tackle as well) defensive first and second teamers are white.

Assuming these are the 55 best players in football, then 41.8% of the best players are white (23/55) in a league which is 27.7% white overall. This would tend to confirm your theory. (If Watt is counted once, then 22/54 is 40.7%–still much higher than league average).

However part of the reason why blacks make up a higher percentage than they might otherwise has to do with the positions black players tend to play vs. whites. Take a typical white position–kicker. On a 53 man active roster, normally a team will only carry one place kicker and one punter (who often doubles as the holder–another position whites are overrepresented at). A typical black position–say defensive back–may have ten active players (like the Dallas Cowboys’ roster does) even though only four start. The attrition difference between typically white and black positions skews the numbers, meaning that although over 2/3 of NFLers are black, they don’t contribute to 2/3 of the value of a typical NFL team.

* Donovan McNabb also lacked the fire in the belly that all the truly great QBs have. There is an (in) famous clip of him laughing on the sidelines just after he threw a drive-ending interception in a playoff game that I think they eventually lost. No way would you ever see Montana, Brady, Elway, or Manning do that. They hate to lose.

* Russell Wilson divorced his wife because he caught her having an affair with his best friend Golden Tate. Golden Tate was then traded to Detroit Lions and Russell divorced his wife. She should have waited until Wilson signed the mega-contract to have an affair. Now she just gets only part of $500,00 a year salary. She could have been set for life if she waited a year.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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