The Black quarterback’s NFL journey has always been filled with pitfalls, unfair criticisms, and racially-motivated goal-post moving that prevents white owners from allowing a brother to be the face of the franchise.
There have been exceptions and after last season’s “Year of the Black Quarterback,” the racism and bigotry that has prevented Black quarterbacks from thriving in the NFL seemed to be waning.
I even started writing stories about the quarterback position finally being post-racial. All of that sounds good and it definitely puts non-people of color more at ease when we choose to ignore the years of systemic racism that has hindered the success of Black quarterbacks in the NFL.
What’s A Black Quarterback Worth?
Then we wake up one day, however, and 30-year-old Cam Newton, 27-year-old Jacoby Brissett, and 26-year-old Jameis Winston — three of the most talented signal-callers in the NFL — don’t have starting jobs.
In fact, Cam is being released by the Panthers today. They are bringing in Teddy Bridgewater, a guy who hasn’t started a full season since 2015. And signed XFL MVP P.J. Walker as Teddy’s backup. Cam may not be missed now, but he will be.
Newton is a former MVP and Super Bowl QB and Winston is a Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick who has posted some tremendous passing numbers since he came into the league (minus some picks) and is already the all-time leading passer in Tampa Bay Bucs history. You’d think the franchise would take the responsibility to work on things with Jameis, who has MVP potential and never threw more than 18 picks before last season’s dirty 30. In fact, he threw 25 in 2017 and 2018 combined.
How does Tampa Bay dead him after one high-pick season? Like he ain’t nothing.
Brissett took over for Andrew Luck who abruptly retired after getting massacred for years behind a terrible Indianapolis Colts O-line. The former Patriots backup showed that given the right pieces he can definitely win. It’s not like the Colts are bursting with talent either.
Tampa Bay and Carolina basically chose to throw the best quarterbacks in franchise history in the garbage can. I get that Cam’s era was over. He was banged up and his two biggest supporters — former owner Jerry Richardson and head coach Ron Rivera were gone.
The Colts abandoned Brissett after one season as a starter to bring in Phillip Rivers, a 38-year old QB with 16 years of tread on his tire, who could NEVER win ANYTHING with some formidable Chargers teams.
Brissett went 7-8 as a starter and threw 18 TD and 6 picks in his first full season. You’d think they would want to build on that.
It was just Week 7 of last season when everyone was talking about how well Brissett stepped into Luck’s huge shoes, throwing for 326 yards and four TDs in a win over Deshaun Watson’s Houston Texans.
Jacoby Brissett’s 4th TD of the day.
Zachary Pascal’s 2nd TD of the day.
What a day indeed.
— PFF (@PFF) October 20, 2019
Less than a year later and he’s finished.
Black Quarterbacks Still Undervalued
Maybe the NFL isn’t as advanced as we thought when it comes to the treatment of Black quarterbacks. If these guys were white, would they be devalued so much?
A guy like Winston who throws 33 TDS and leads the league in passing on a sorry team is thrown aside at age 26 for a 43-year-old Tom Brady?
The sports world justified the move by harping on Winston’s 30 picks as if they were a direct indication of how bad he is. They conveniently leave out the fact that he became the 8th quarterback in league history to throw for over 5,000 yards. There’s a deeper explanation that goes into a quarterback throwing picks than he just sucks. Everybody has to do their part for a play to work.
LA Rams QB Jared Goff should have thrown more picks than Jameis. Fortunately, the guys he played against had hands of stone. Nobody released Goff or signed a QB twice his age and relegated him to a backup role. Why not?
Jared Goff had 16 interceptions last season. He had 20 more interceptions dropped: pic.twitter.com/bH1jQrtqlo
— QB Data Mine (@QBDataMine) March 24, 2020
Jameis Winston Is Today’s Brett Favre
On the other hand, the pundits totally ignore Winston’s ability to put the ball in the endzone more frequently than Goff. They ignore his gifted arm, his leadership ability and his willingness to put it all on his shoulders. Some analysts have clowned him and tried to ego shame him. Things they would never do to Brady or Rivers who both have Winston’s confidence.
Winston reminds me of Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who threw 19 TD and 23 picks in his third season and in 2005 he threw 20 TDs and 29 picks. His first team in Atlanta didn’t even want him.
But everyone accepted Favre and praised his gunslinging mentality. Despite some abominable picks, they described him as having “guts” and “heart” and being a leader. I see those same things in Jameis.
Say what you want the boy could get the ball where it need to be ‼️ https://t.co/LEa78LBG92
— §hãñë_Ōmêñ (@WTT_Omen) March 24, 2020
By Favre’s 6th season, he was down to 13 picks and he had a Super Bowl contending team. It would all come together for Favre and he won the Super Bowl in 1997.
If the Bucs could ever get it together, I envisioned the same things for Jameis. It’s a travesty that he hasn’t gotten any calls yet. I think he would be a perfect challenge for Bill Belichick at this point in Yoda’s career. With Jameis, Bill sure doesn’t have to worry about someone gushing their pants in a big spot. You give him a few pieces and he’ll light it up. Give him that Hall of Fame guidance and sky is the limit. And what a way for Bill to stick it back to Brady by QB swapping and proving that he really is that dude.
Short Hook For Black Quarterbacks
This is logical thinking to me. Instead, these ESPN narratives and such are designed to convince fans that Jameis is garbage.
Imagine a white quarterback with Winston’s stats and Heisman pedigree? Or with Brissette’s obvious abilities. NFL teams would be making every excuse as to why he is the future. Hanging on hard, like the Bears with Mitch Trubisky. Instead, Winston and Brissett were told that they were valued less than two, white over the hill, non-mobile QBs.
Jameis has only played five seasons.
His teams have been mediocre at best and instead of bringing in another offensive mind that could better tailor the offense to Winston’s skills (Bruce Arians’ downfield style may not have been best) they basically blame their best player for the organization’s ineptitude.
Something just doesn’t sit right about a narrative that wants us to believe that these quarterbacks don’t fit as starters in the league. Their deficiencies have been highlighted rather than what they can offer a team. It’s sad.
It’s the same thing that happened to Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson coming out of college. We thought it was over when Kyler Murray went No. 1 last year and Patrick Mahomes became the third Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. And all of the Pro Bowl quarterbacks were Black.
But then, Jerry Jones tried to devalue Dak Prescott. And the Panthers acted as if Cam Newton never existed. With the NFL trends leaning towards young, athletic playmaking quarterbacks — and with viable starting quarterbacks still hard to come by — it’s odd that the Colts and Bucs would discard quarterbacks who aren’t even 30 yet, still have an upward trajectory and have proved they can ball.
The NFL is still trying to hold on to a past that is long gone. The game done changed, but they don’t want to fully commit to it.