In December we wrote an article entitled, The Post Racial NFL: ‘The Black Quarterback Is Dead.’
Before 2019, which will forever be known as “The Year of The Black Quarterback,” African-American signal-callers with questions (founded or unfounded) about their ability to perform at the next level, such as Jalen Hurts and Jordan Love, would either be asked to play another position or chosen in late rounds and considered “longshot projects.”
After three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, in the words of the late great hip-hop poet Biggie Smalls, “Things Done Changed.”
In a move that surprised some people, the Green Bay Packers, who have Aaron Rodgers coming off another 4,000 plus yard season and a 13-3 record, gave up the 30th-overall pick and a fourth-round selection to move up in the draft land the Utah State product with the 26th overall pick.
In a strikingly similar move to when Rodgers was selected by the Packers in 2005 to be Brett Favre’s backup and the future, Green Bay saw something in Jordan that was too good to pass up and selected him as the 36-year-old Rodgers’ eventual replacement.
Rodgers, who was taken 24th overall out of Cal and spent three years as Favre’s backup before winning a Super Bowl and a pair of MVPs, is one year older than Favre was in 2005.
Love is the future.
Even more surprising was Jalen Hurts’ selection by the Eagles with the 53rd pick of the 2nd round. That was a bit earlier than expected and for now, Hurts will be solid insurance for injury-prone QB Carson Wentz.
Both of these quarterbacks had more questions than Charlie Ward did coming out of Florida State back in ’94, but it’s obvious that traditional, bigoted questions about the Black quarterback’s passing and leadership acumen are being overlooked in favor of the versatile skill sets they offer which coincides with the evolution of the NFL game.
In the past, the gifts that these quarterbacks possessed athletically were overlooked and considered better maximized at other positions. Their speed and creativity were considered negatives for an NFL quarterback because with it followed an implication that they were inferior intellectually. And if they didn’t toss the sauce like Peyton Manning, then they were considered Martians — alien to the position at the pro level.
Black quarterbacks from Doug Williams to Warren Moon to Donovan McNabb to Mike Vick, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, proved that they could lead, inspire and execute in the passing game for Super Bowl contending teams.
It still took an influx of elite Black NFL talent and a 2019 season in which all the Pro Bowl QBs were brothers, Patrick Mahomes Jr. became the third Black QB to win a Super Bowl and Lamar Jackson spits in the face of white executives who suggested he play running back en route to a historical MVP season, for the game to FINALLY catch up to the new age greatness of the colorful QB.
While there are still some lingering fossils who question the effectiveness of the Black QB, those voices are disappearing into obscurity. It’s obvious in the case of Utah’s Love — who had a dramatic drop in effectiveness from 2018 to 2019 — that the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder is the direct beneficiary of a dramatic culture shift in how NFL teams select their quarterbacks.
SB Nation had this scouting summary of Love:
“He has a strong arm, good pocket mobility, quick mental processing, and good accuracy when his mechanics are on. The issues for Love are calculation errors on decision making and accuracy inconsistency due to mechanics. If he can fix those, Love could end up as a top QB”
Those traditional red flag words commonly used when referencing Black quarterbacks were evident; “calculation errors,” “decision-making,” “inconsistent accuracy and mechanics.”
But because of Love’s comparisons to Mahomes (10th pick 2017 Draft), NFL scouts were willing to ignore all of the negative reports and the Packers were obviously salivating at the opportunity to snag him and see if he can do some of the things Magic Pat can do.
Listening to Todd McShay rave about Love really puts this philosophical shift concerning what makes a solid NFL quarterback into perspective
Jordan Love if you go back and really study the tape in 2018, that’s the QB you’re going to get,” said McShay on ESPN’s First Take this morning. “And if you’re the right person developing him as an offensive coordinator or quarterback coach- type, he’s going to be a really, really good starter in the league. He’s subtle, he’s instinctive, he can change his arm angles, he can move up platform and create and extend plays which is what you’re looking for in a QB in the NFL today.
Wow…Biggie was right.
NFL.com draft analyst Bucky Brooks says that Love could actually be getting the benefit of the doubt despite his issues — which hasn’t always been a given for black quarterbacks.
According to Yahoo Sports, after talking to league executives, Brooks says mobile, African-American quarterbacks like Love are tangibly benefitting from the unparalleled success that many black NFL quarterbacks had in 2019.
The Pat Mahomes-Lamar Jackson bump is real, because the more we get comfortable seeing African-American quarterbacks having success, the easier it is for teams to get comfortable envisioning that guy being their player,” Brooks told Yahoo Sports. “When you looked at, like, four of the top [quarterbacks in 2019], it was Russell [Wilson], it was Mahomes, it was Jackson, Deshaun Watson. All those guys are balling out.
And so now what is happening is, some of the things that we used to have said about them like, ‘Oh, you can’t play that style and succeed, you can’t play that style and remain healthy, oh those guys can’t pass, oh they don’t have the IQ to be able to run the game’ … now that a bunch of different style of quarterbacks who happen to be African-American have had success, it has kind of opened up the floodgates for the next generation of guys to come through.
Hurts, was considered a lukewarm NFL prospect despite his success at Alabama before transferring to OU where he put together a Heisman worthy campaign. In January, we thought he would be the next LJ or Dangeruss or DeShaun Watson. A Black quarterback who was racially-profiled and undervalued in the draft, then made everybody pay.
As the NFL narrative drastically shifts to even the most traditional NFL fans craving a dual-threat QB (doesn’t have to be Black, just mobile with a gun like Josh Allen) to lead their franchise, those skeptical of Hurts’ ability to toss the rock or read defenses at the next level showed more interest in what he can do.
Hurts’ stock rose from late-round project to possible first or second-round pick following his 4.59 40-yard dash at the #NFLCombine2020
There won’t be any teams for Hurts to get back at for not choosing him. He couldn’t have asked for a higher selection. It’s up to him now to make the situation work.
The NFL has its difficulties when balancing a predominantly black player population with all-white ownership and executive base, but this recent idea of giving Black QB prospects the benefit of the doubt is unfounded.
These days, the NFL isn’t a racist league, just a copycat league and the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft proved that.