The NFL has been around for more than a century, and like any business that has existed that long in America, it has been touched by racism. Whether it was flat-out bans on Black players in the 1930s or Warren Moon having to rip the CFL a new one for five straight years to prove he was smart enough to be a quarterback, no one can deny the NFL’s history of racism. While things are better now than they have ever been, that doesn’t mean the effects of that ugly history are not felt today. In fact, we may be seeing them right before our eyes this year.
In today’s Niners Nation Gold Standard Podcast, Levin Black wondered aloud why people suddenly began questioning Justin Fields’ leadership, character, and work ethic. Meanwhile, Mac Jones, who has some documented missteps in his own history, has not received the same level of scrutiny while vaulting up mock drafts. In Levin’s mind, the answer was pretty clear.
“Part of Mac Jones’ rise as a prospect is due to racism. Racism is more nuanced than simple, ‘I don’t like that guy because of the color of his skin so I’m going to downgrade one guy and upgrade another guy.’ It’s more nuanced than that. The NFL has a racist past and some of the most blatant racism came at the quarterback position. That has created a system or history that is biased towards a certain style of quarterback that is predominantly White. And so I think that there is this idea where people are more critical of the athletic quarterback. They look at the athletic quarterback and say, ‘yeah he can run but can he actually play quarterback?’ There’s an underlying thing that sometimes you’re not even conscious of, because it’s built upon racism. The pundits out there aren’t being racist themselves, but they are being affected by racism and that is affecting their opinion. I think that is going on with Mac Jones.”
I know that some of you have already stopped reading this and are busy typing out your comment about how dumb we are and that you’re never coming back to Niners Nation for anything ever again. I hope you don’t do that, but I accept that this will anger many people. For everyone else, I hope you’ll take a listen to the full episode before making up your mind.
You can find it here or on all major podcast platforms.