This N’ That With Tony Mack: Black QB’s: One Man’s Opinion

By Tony McClean
Updated: November 16, 2004

Michael Vick

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Even though I love the NFL, there still exists some negative thinking from within its power structure that is just ass backwards. It was just a year ago at this time that we were embroiled in the Rush Limbaugh-Donovan McNabb “controversy”.

Limbaugh’s bombasts about the media wanting to see a “mediocre black quarterback” do well set off a litany of point-counterpoint columns nationally while also opening up a wound that never appears to heal.

It’s been nearly 18 years since Doug Williams became the first black QB to win a Super Bowl and its been almost five years since Steve McNair nearly did the same thing for the Tennessee Titans.

Even though we marvel each week at the exploits of McNabb, Michael Vick, and Daunte Culpepper, there still exists a negative and overly critical appraisal of most current black NFL quarterbacks.

You try not to make it a race issue, but it does truly make you wonder at times. No more does that double standard exist than in the Big Apple. When the Jets’ Chad Pennington went down against the Buffalo Bills last week, former Dallas Cowboy Quincy Carter became Gang Green’s new starter.

In listening to the New York tabloids, you would have thought that QC had never played a game in the NFL. All week leading up to last week’s match up against the Ravens, many said that Carter couldn’t and wouldn’t able to “be like Chad”.

Despite the fact that Carter has a stronger arm, more mobility, and had previously led his team to the playoffs a year earlier, most folks felt Head Coach Herm Edwards and offensive coordinator Paul Hackett would have to “dumb down” the offense for Carter.

In fact, Carter was great in the first half against the Ravens Sunday. He made plays and throws that most Pennington fans admit that Chad couldn’t in the game. But despite a sizzling 7-for-7 start, Coach Edwards didn’t even trust Carter enough to make the game-altering play.

Up 14-0 and with the Jets deep in Baltimore territory late in the first half, the Jets called for a halfback option pass by Lamont Jordan. Even though the Jets had just reached Ravens side of the field following a 40-yard hookup from Carter to Santana Moss, the New York brain trust didn’t even trust Carter’s talent following a huge play.

Needless to say, Jordan’s errant pass was intercepted by Ed Reed and the game’s momentum was drastically changed. What further compounded things later was Edwards’ sabotaging of Carter’s by bad clock management in the final seconds of regulation leading to the Jets’ OT loss.

Now fast forward to this Monday. The Giants have now named much-hyped rookie Eli Manning as their starter following their dismal loss at Arizona. While Kurt Warner’s play has been up and down the last few weeks, Big Blue’s offensive line has allowed 24 sacks over the last four games.

Despite that, many media folk are already saying how Manning’s ascend to the QB throne is just a formality and that he’ll cure the Giants’ ills. Again, it’s about perception and alleged reputations.

We don’t know if Eli will be as talented as his dad and or brother, but already we’ve been told that the best is yet to come. Just after the draft, I said on WCLM’s “Sports Talk” that Eli wasn’t even the best quarterback coming out of the draft. I felt Ben Roethlisberger would wind up being the best and needless to say, I’ve been proven right so far.

The thing that still bothers me about the whole double standard with black QB’s is that even with some success, there still remains some overly critical comments by alleged experts.

You still have some media folk that wail on and on about how Michael Vick still hasn’t “completely grasped” the West Coast offense. His incredible skills still aren’t appreciated because it’s not traditional QB play.

What’s missed is that Jim Mora Jr. as a first-year coach recognizes that he has something incredibly unique with the Michael Vick Experience. In just a small period of time, Mora makes it a point to play to No. 7′s strengths, not his weaknesses.

It’s much like what Andy Reid has done with McNabb, what Mike Tice has done with Culpepper, what Jack Del Rio does with Byron Leftwich, and so on.

Once the rest of the NFL “gets it”, the league will be even better for it.