One Wrong Answer Troy In Otherwise Thoughtful Heisman Press Conference

Updated: December 11, 2006



We were there

it turns out to ask the

Impertinent Question

that’s what we do so well

here in the Black Box

certainly nobody else in the press room

at the Hard Rock Cafe in Midtown New York

Saturday evening following the Heisman Award

and packed with mostly White Journalists

were ever going to ask such a Question


” Troy you said at the start you are pursuing a second degree in African American studies at Ohio State, as only the 3rd African American Quarterback to ever win the Heisman Trophy and the first in 13 years does that have any particular significance for you as an African American ? ”


To summarize ….


Troy’s more detailed answer

( paraphrased )

‘ I don’t think in those terms. I am an athlete and its not about being Black or white. That’s not the way I think. So the fact that you say I’m the third African American Quarterback to win the Heisman really does not mean anything.’

( again this is not word for word but close and certainly his tone )

Here in the Box we call that the “Tiger Woods syndrome.” There is nothing wrong with that “all inclusive” view of Sports or humanity except for something called the Real World. Granted a Real World that athletes like Troy Smith or Tiger Woods will never have to deal with as Elite Athletes. There is no place worth going where they will not be Welcome for as long as they live.

And other than that one question from BASN, Troy Smith was a very impressive, thoughtful, self confident young athlete. Clearly a Leader as you would expect from a Heisman Winner and the Quarterback of the #1 team in the nation.

Smith was also very interested and concerned about Cleveland. He came out of a neighborhood that was obviously a “ghetto.” And he seems to have a real passion for making use of part of himself to improve these neighborhoods which are largely Black communities. In fact in response to someone else’s question as to what he would do if for some reason he did not have an NFL career as a Quarterback ahead of him. Of course he does. Troy said he would devote himself to the economic improvements of these neighborhoods in Cleveland.

Smith was equally impressive discussing his background, his family, his friends and coaches, his feelings about winning the Heisman. All very impressive except here in the Black Box his answer to one question he never ever would even have been asked if the Black Box was not there. At the Hard Rock Cafe.

For us that one response does leave a gap in the overall impression Troy Smith makes. At best he is simply ignorant of the past struggles of African Americans specifically those trying to succeed as Quarterbacks, worse it might be a somewhat callous lack of concern, and at worst it might be nothing better than a form of Hypocrisy. Deciding that identifying himself as the latest celebrated African American in the annals of Black Quarterbacks and that history might cost him money because the sponsorship dollars and all the power is in the White Community. The Tiger Woods Syndrome.

We don’t know the Answer

It is even possible having reflected on this “strange” question from Saturday night asked something similar again the next time Troy might have a far more empathy and display more appreciation for the importance of African American Quarterbacks in the Sports INDUSTRY. And appreciation for those who came before him. Even that much more an individual and African American pursuing a degree in African American studies.

If he does not yet hopefully Troy Smith will come to appreciate the unique stature of the Quarterback in American Sports and American Society. That Quarterback is all about POWER and stature in our society. Unlike any other role in Sports.

Hopefully Troy Smith will also develop an awareness and feeling for hundreds if not thousands of outstanding African American athletes and football players from the earliest days of the 20th century in colleges and in the pros who NEVER played Quarterback not because they didn’t want but because AFRICAN AMERICANS WERE BARRED FROM PLAYING QUARTERBACK for so long. After that and even now today still discouraged in various ways.

And on a very positive note

Just as Troy Smith wants to go back into Black communities and tell African American kids in ghetto neighborhoods they can have better economic futures than they do. That they can and should have control over their lives. Hopefully Troy Smith comes to realize that talking to individual Black kids and better standing in front of groups of young African Americans in Cleveland and around the country telling them if they want to be Quarterbacks they should not let anything or anyone stop them and do just as he did …. that one important powerful satisfying road to economic success is for more kids to become successful Black Quarterbacks.



Troy Smith

should pick up his cell phone

gets their numbers and

call both Andre Ware

and Charlie Ward

and tell them both

how PROUD he is

to be the THIRD

African American

Quarterback to win

The Heisman to

join them in that


Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box …….