A recent article in the Huffington Post regarding a study that says black quarterbacks are twice as likely to be benched for poor performance, as white quarterbacks, misses the mark.
I can say in all my years covering the National Football League, that is not the case. There is too much of a sense of accountability in football for someone to sit a player, at practically any position, in favor of a less talented player.
And that is especially the case for the quarterback position, the most scrutinized position in all of sports. There was certainly a time when race factored into the quarterback position. In the late ’60s, and early ’70s when black quarterbacks like Marlin Briscoe (Denver Broncos), Eldridge Dickey (first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1968), and Joe Gilliam (Pittsburgh Steelers) were breaking into the league, they dealt with a lot of discrimination.
Actually, the very fact there were so few black quarterbacks even playing the position as late as the ’80s in the NFL shows discriminatory practices were in place. But in today’s NFL, almost always, the guy who is getting the job done, is the guy who is playing.
If you were to bench a quarterback, regardless of his race, you would have skepticism from the media, who will consistently ask why the player was demoted? Secondly, and more importantly, if the benching isn’t for anything other than performance, the head coach would lose the locker room.
NFL players, who literally risk serious bodily harm every week, are not going to let something like that occur without speaking out. They have too much sweat equity invested in winning. In pro sports, more often than not, the best players play. Everybody’s job is to win, and win immediately. Now, there are certainly exceptions. Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen sat on the bench in Oakland years ago because of a beef with owner Al Davis.
There may be some contract issues that have kept a player on the sidelines, and certainly punishment for breaking team rules
But to bench a guy, especially at quarterback, and have something other than performance be at play? I don’t see it.
It remains unclear how the author weighted factors such as age, injury, and experience in arriving at his final conclusion. In addition, it is unclear how many black quarterbacks actually made the final cut for the evaluation.A better study, if possible, would’ve been to evaluate how African-American quarterbacks face more scrutiny than white quaterbacks. There is no doubt in my mind that African-American quarterbacks take more hits in the media, and feel the wrath of fans.
And While there may not be a way to quantify that statisticaly, just go read some columns regarding black quarterbacks, and then check the message boards.But the 1.98 to 2.4 times the study talks about regarding benchings? Considering a the spotlight that if focused on anyone who plays the quarterback position at a high level, that’s nothing.