Speaking with the Austin American-Statesman this week, Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell said that the Texans Longhorns -- his alma mater -- must realize they need a black quarterback to win. This was in regards to their current starting quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, who is white, and Campbell's belief that, "All these schools that are winning, even in the pros, have black quarterbacks."
The comment, or belief, if you will, was the textbook definition of racism. And thus far, outside of a few aggregation posts from blogs, sports media has essentially elected to not cover it.
The flawed statement by Campbell is not just racist, and stereotyping, it's also factually inaccurate. According to Campbell, all the schools winning in college, and the teams in the pros, have black quarterbacks. Let's take a look.
Trevor Lawrence was the starting quarterback of Clemson when they won the national championship last season. As for the pros, Tom Brady was the Super Bowl-winning quarterback a year ago. Taking championships out of this equation, over the past 10 seasons, there has been a blend of races having success at the most important position in sports. Between 2008-2018, the Heisman Trophy has gone to a quarterback nine times. Three of them have been white, five have been black, and one was of Samoan descent. In that same time frame, in the NFL, a quarterback has won the MVP award 10 times with a total of eight being white, one black, and one was biracial.
There's no substance when a discussion about quarterbacks is based on race. It's instead baseless statements by people who are bothered by one's skin color. And that goes for both the collegiate and professional level.
Tim Tebow is arguably the greatest college quarterback of the past 20 years. I say arguably because Deshaun Watson and Vince Young have just as strong cases. Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield were fantastic at points in their college careers. As were Cam Newton and Kyler Murray. As for the NFL right now, the two best players this season, at quarterback, have been Watson, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. It's hard to conclude the position is dominated by any race right now. As hard as it is for Campbell to realize, the color of your skin doesn't factor into how well you play the position.
Despite his flawed argument on multiple levels, Campbell's comments have not garnered much attention. In the past, when a player of Campbell's stature said something as controversial as this, it was an instant discussion on most of the sports-talk television and radio shows. That isn't the case this time. If nothing else, just pointing out that his statement is not centered around facts is a talking point. If this was said the other way around, the past indicates it would be far from absent from the top television and radio shows in sports as it is today.
There is an argument of impacts differing from races talking about other races based on historical oppression. That point is fair to bring up. But it doesn't outweigh what racism is: "Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior." Period. End of story. It doesn't matter what you look like or where you come from. Living in a world where someone is judged by ethnicity is unjustifiable incorrect.
As Clay Travis pointed out yesterday, when an East Texas school superintendent, someone far less known than Campbell, wrote you, “You can’t count on a black quarterback,” speaking about Deshaun Watson, it became a national story. That statement was offensive, disturbing, and unfair to Watson. Just as this was offensive, disturbing, and unfair to Ehlinger. There is no difference. The superintendent and Campbell were both wrong and both are deserving of backlash.
There is a long history of this as well. Several black quarterbacks have been subjected to unwarranted doubts coming into the NFL due to their race. And as they should have, the publicized reports received attention for it. For many of these discussions, it began with just one person making an unintelligent comment about race. Many of whom would be overlooked on the streets walking next to Campbell.
What Campbell said was unacceptable, wrong, baseless, worrisome, and deserving of a proper response. And right now, he's not getting it.