Tuesday, August 22, 2006

WAF Day 4: Sir Charles and Warren Moon

Here's your warning: today we're talking about race. Let's ease into the discussion by getting in a good mood looking at today's links:

Survivor is dividing the tribes by race.

Anybody wonder what happened to Harold Reynolds?

I know some of you want more Snakes on a Plane. Beware of snakes in a theater.

Thirsty? Have a Sly.

Just what every funeral needs: strippers.

Jack Black has a new movie coming out.

So, how long have you been a black quarterback?

On the way back from Oklahoma, I listened to the audio version of Sir Charles' book I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It. In it, he briefly addresses race in the NFL. Specifically, the lack of black quarterbacks.

Charles says that Warren Moon really brought things into focus. He said "Charles, you see the racism against black quarterbacks most clearly in that there aren't very many 3rd string black quarterbacks." Moon's point was that if you are a black quarterback, you better be good enough to start or there's no place for you. He went on to say that there are a few 2nd string black quarterbacks (or "blackups" my term for black backups. Pretty clever if you ask me.) Moon said that you see former starters as blackups, but that teams aren't willing to take on a 3rd string black "project" to develop for the future.

This book was written in 2002, but I thought I'd check out Moon's claim. I went to each NFL team's official website and looked at their current depth charts. Keep in mind, final cuts have not been made so some of these figures may change.

Currently, the NFL has 6 black starting quarterbacks: Culpepper, McNair, Leftwich, Brooks, McNabb, and Vick. There are 5 blackups: Anthony Wright, Charlie Batch, David Garrard, Vince Young, and Seneca Wallace. Four of the blackups fit Moon's description: Wright started 14 games for the Ravens; Batch started 46 games for the Lions; Garrard is highly regarded and is seen as a potential starter, even though he's only started 8 games; Young was a high draft pick, and he'll probably start some this year; Wallace is the lone exception, having never started a game.

Maybe Moon's on to something, there are only 5 third string black quarterbacks: Cleo Lemon (Dolphins); Shaun King (Colts); Quinn Gray (Jags, the only team with all black quarterbacks); Jason Campbell (Redskins); and Bryan Randall (Falcons).

For two of them, Warren was right: King used to start and Campbell probably will. Randall was an undrafted free agent, a project the Falcons have signed and released several times. Lemon has only played in one game in three years, and he also seems like a project.

So it looks like Moon might be on to something. There's tons of shitty white quarterbacks riding the pine, but I can only find two shitty black third stringers. Maybe you do have to be good enough to start to make it as a black quarterback in the NFL.

One other possibility, however, is that colleges don't have black quarterbacks running pro-style offenses. There are only so many Mike Vicks and Vince Youngs in the world. Most NFL QBs rely on their arm rather than legs.

So I'd like to open it up to discussion. Who are the black quarterbacks you thought should have made it in the NFL, but didn't? There must be several recent black quarterbacks that are good enough to be third string.

I'll start the discussion with Michael Bishop. He had a great career with Kansas State, finishing second in the Heisman and striking fear in defenses across the Big XII. He also had an absolute cannon. When he was with the Pats they brought him out for Hail Marys because his arm was stronger than Bledsoe's, which is saying something.

One last thought on the NFL and race: name 5 current white running backs (or, put another way, name 4 white running backs other than Mike Alstott). Good luck.

Have a nice day.