Monday, January 22, 2007

Blacks in Football - January 2007

I remember hearing about how Doug Williams engineered the Washington Redskins win in Super Bowl XXII in 1988; I had to hear about it because I had to work that evening and missed the whole game. It was a shock to have a Black man as quarterback in the biggest football game of the year, so shocking that my father flew from Virginia to San Diego to watch the game even though he didn't have a ticket to the game (he paid a scalper a couple of hundred dollars to get into Jack Murphy Stadium).

Fast forward 19 years and history strikes twice! Two weeks ago you had two Black quarterbacks leading their teams in the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game. Chris Leak led the University of Florida Gators over the Ohio State Buckeyes who were led to an undefeated regular season by Troy Smith.

And in two weeks, Tony Dungy, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts will match football wits with Lovie Smith, head coach of the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Three years ago, Lovie Smith was passed over by the Atlanta Falcons in favor of the untested Jim Mora; he was quickly picked up by the Bears. Seems like poetic justice that the Bears are on their way to the Super Bowl, while the Falcons missed the playoffs and fired Jim Mora after a second lackluster season.

I'm not that big on "The First Black to..." lists, but these are two pretty momentous and significant events that will undoubtedly change the complexion of college and professional sports. Both positions - head coach and quarterback - have been reserved in the past for "intellectual" types (nudge-nudge-wink-wink!) while Black athletes have been traditionally relegated to more athletic pursuits and assistant coaching roles.
Myth 1: One should not waste the boundless athletic ability of a Black athlete on the quarterback position, when he could be running pass routes or running down speedy running backs.
Myth 2: Black men didn't have the management skills to run the successful and disparate operations required to be a successful head coach.
In four short weeks, it appears that these two myths have been debunked. It is only a matter of time before we'll see two Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl (go Michael Vick)!


vcthree said...

Well, to paraphrase Sam Huff from the Redskins' broadcast of that Super Bowl, I hope this Super Bowl matchup put to bed the misconception of the Black coach in professional football.

And congrats to the Steelers, and to Mike Tomlin--the Steelers owner put this policy of interviewing minority candidates, then put their money where their mouth was by hiring Tomlin. Good luck to him.

Arch City Expatriate said...

Great piece. I agree that it is poetic justice for Lovie Smith, even though I have reservations about him.

Smith, who seems like a passive permissive type, probably rationalized somehow, that he was passed over by Atlanta in favor of Mora for any other reason but race.

I am happy for him though.

But yeah, Karma is real.