Tebow Hype an Injustice to Black Quarterbacks

Donovan McNabb and black quarterbacks often do not get the glory as their white counterparts./Photo/Kevin Terrell
Donovan McNabb and black quarterbacks often do not get the glory as their white counterparts./Photo/Kevin Terrell

The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun. This is how this whole Tim Tebow craze should be viewed. Unfortunately, for the black quarterback it is not. What Tebow is doing this NFL season is nothing different than what black quarterbacks have been doing for decades.

Instead of receiving the kind of love Tebow has been given, black quarterbacks, for the most part, have been scorned, criticized and ridiculed for doing the very thing the Denver Broncos star has been allowed to do. 

All of a sudden, it’s cool to be a dual-threat quarterback now that Tebow has entered the picture. But that kind of praise has always been nothing more than a much sought after affirmation dream for the black quarterback. It’s now chic to be a dual-threat white signal-caller and receive the credit and the kinds of accolades that have always escaped and eluded the black quarterback.   

I cringe when I read stories where people like the legendary coach John Madden says he’s never seen anything like this before when describing Tebow’s impact on the NFL game. I shudder when longtime football people suck up to the Tebow hype like they’ve never seen a running quarterback in their lives, at any level. Of course, they have. It

A running quarterback in the NFL is nothing new to them or anyone else who knows the game of football. The newness and fresh approach comes from the fact that one team in the NFL has allowed a good-looking, charismatic white quarterback the opportunity to do what black quarterbacks have been told they can’t do: run the football.     

We’ve all seen this picture before. This is nothing new. What’s new and endearing to the mainstream media is that Tebow doesn’t have the same skin complexion as a Donovan McNabb, Warren Moon, Vince Evans, Randall Cunningham, Duante Culpepper, Charlie Ward, Troy Smith, Doug Williams, Joe “Jefferson Street” Gilliam, Michael Vick or Marlin Briscoe.

And let’s not forget about Steve McNair, Willie Totten, Rodney Peete, Gene Washington, Aaron Brooks, James “Shack” Harris, and some of the other lesser know black quarterbacks playing in the NFL today. All of these men could make plays with their legs as well with their arms. Some, like Vick, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson and rookie sensation Cam Newton, still are.

The black quarterback put the phrase “playmaker” on the map because of their innate ability to break down defenses by throwing and running the football and doing it with breathtaking flair.

But not much credit has come their way. Instead, they’ve had to endure racist catcalls of not having the intellect to think as well as their white counterparts. They’ve been told since Pop Warner football that they were exceptional athletes.

 

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been wildly celebrated for what the black quarterback has always been able to do.

Many have black quarterbacks have been told in order to get the opportunity to play on Sunday that they had to switch from their multi-threat ways on the football field to a position that regulates them to just running, either as a defensive back wide receiver or running back.

Those bold enough to take a stand of wanting to play quarterback have paid a steep price, in some form or another. Moon, the first black quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was forced to leave the country in order to play the quarterback position at the pro level. With the odds of bigotry stacked against him, Moon had to settle to playing quarterback in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for six season before being asked to come back home to star in the NFL.

Williams, who became the first black quarterback to guide his team (Washington Redskins) to a Super Bowl victory, has never received his share of glory. Ditto for the much-maligned McNabb, who only took the Philadelphia Eagles to five NFC title games and a Super Bowl appearance. Criticism comes with the territory of playing the quarterback position.

But for the black quarterback, who is often asked to play the role of Superman for his team, the scrutiny is harsher. Judgment, especially coming from television analysts and commentators, are a lot stiffer because black signal-callers are often not viewed as the pure passer as white quarterbacks are.

Tebow’s so-called unconventional style of play, as media experts would put it, is no exception to the rule when it comes to scrambling, making plays with his legs instead of his arm and winning football games. We’ve seen Vince Young, a starter with the Tennessee Titans and now a backup with the Philadelphia Eagles, doing basically the same thing Tebow is doing now during his rookie season a couple of years ago.

Young has been constantly bashed by the media and football pundits as a runner instead of a real, pure quarterback. Like his predecessors, Young has been bashed roundly for being the ultimate threat on the football field. That’s been pretty much the story of the black quarterback. Hopefully, their stories and their remarkable talents will have more of a spotlight focused on them and they become more prevalent and acceptable as the norm and not the exception.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1118 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.