Will Russell Wilson’s success change the perception of black quarterbacks?

 

Super Bowl 48 champion Russell Wilson.

Super Bowl 48 Champion Russell Wilson.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Year after year football fans were reminded that the only African-American starting quarterback to win the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl was Doug Williams in 1988. It was more than just reciting a fact, it was like a trivia question on some historical event unlikely to be matched. To date, there have been 48 Super Bowls and 96 starting quarterbacks. Five of the starting quarterbacks have been black, including last year’s runner-up Colin Kaepernick and this year’s winner Russell Wilson.

Super Bowl 22 champion and game MVP Doug Williams.

Super Bowl 22 Champion and game MVP Doug Williams.

Wilson’s success will definitely have an impact on the league going forward. Kurt Badenhausen, writer for Forbes.com, points out that “[Joe] Flacco…,[Aaron] Rodgers…, and [Drew] Brees signed a $100 million deal,” shortly after winning the Super Bowl. He also highlights that, “Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are the most marketable players in the NFL.” While there have been a good number of African-American quarterbacks to start and succeed in the NFL, Williams and Wilson continue to change the narrative so that black quarterbacks should be viewed as winners as well.

Top rated quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater.

Top rated quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater.

Yet there are many who believe Wilson joining the illustrious company of Super Bowl- winning quarterbacks is insignificant. ESPN’s Michael Smith on his show Numbers Never Lie (NNL), the day after the Super Bowl stated, “I would like to think we have moved past the point where the color of the skin matters…when it comes to quarterbacks.” He would go on to point out the number of black quarterbacks in the league currently and the high probability that highly touted college prospects Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston will also join that list. There are clearly more starting opportunities given to black quarterbacks now than there ever have been in the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick at Super Bowl 47.

Colin Kaepernick  (c) at Super Bowl 47.

However, the number of African-Americans that are deemed “franchise quarterbacks” is quite small. Franchise quarterbacks are not only given an opportunity to start for their team but are given long-term contracts worth $100 million dollars or more. These rewards come to quarterbacks whose teams feel are the long-term solution for the quarterback position, and who generate confidence of a Super Bowl victory. In this regard, there is still significant room for improvement for racial equality as it appears the determination of franchise quarterback is still easier to achieve for white quarterbacks than anyone else.

Michael Vick has accomplished a great deal in his career including signing 2 different $100 million contracts.

Michael Vick has accomplished a great deal in his career including signing two different $100 million contracts.

Currently, the only black quarterback in the NFL who has signed a $50 million dollar guaranteed contract (or contract extension) or greater since the 2010 season is Michael Vick. In the meantime, there have been at least six of those types of contracts signed by white quarterbacks since the end of the 2012 season alone. Franchises show their belief in the future of the players by signing them to long-term lucrative contracts, not just giving them a chance to prove themselves on the field.

Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are both signed to rookie contracts that paid them less than a million dollars for this entire season ($526,220 and $740,840 respectively). ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano explains, “When you’re still a couple of years from really having to pay your franchise quarterback…your GM’s offseason priority list becomes a lot more fun.” With their recent success, there is little doubt that their teams will sign them to lucrative deals in the future.

Will Robert Griffin III (l) or Cam Newton (r) earn lucrative deals from their current team?

Will Robert Griffin III (l) or Cam Newton (r) earn lucrative deals from their current team?

The true test of the evaluation of the black quarterbacks will come when other young black quarterbacks with less success than Wilson and Kaepernick, but showing just as much promise, are available for contract extensions. Will Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Geno Smith be given the same faith by their franchises with long-term contracts as Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, or Jay Cutler? Black quarterbacks are beyond the point of proving that they deserve an opportunity. At this point, if the franchises truly believe in these young men, they will show them the money.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Reserving judgment, respecting althletes’ legal rights

 

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a current Heisman Trophy candidate and currently stands accused of rape of a female student on campus.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a current Heisman Trophy candidate and currently stands accused of rape of a female student on campus.

By Charles Glover Jr.

Athletes often generate as much attention as musicians and actors. They also attract more publicity than most politicians. The constant spotlight on athletes makes it unlikely that the public will patiently wait for information to come out when a legal matter presents itself. But, as athletes such as Michael Vick, Roger Clements, Aaron Hernandez and now, Jameis Winston, have come to recognize, it is important to obtain and adhere to legal counsel instead of satisfying the public’s desire for information when confronting accusations that have legal implications.

Roger Clemens faced federal charges of lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2008. Though many believed he was guilty, Clemens was acquitted of those charges in 2012.

Roger Clemens faced federal charges of lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2008. Though many believed he was guilty, Clemens was acquitted of those charges in 2012.

The willingness of the public to allow for an athlete’s personal life to remain private drastically changes when the legal system is involved. It is often viewed as a betrayal of the public’s trust when an athlete is accused of being involved with something that might be illegal. However, the scrutiny a troubled athlete experiences is not consistent. In fact, it typically seems that what a person is accused of matters even more than who is accused.

Aaron Hernandez was arrested in 2013 and charged with the multiple felonies including the murder of Odin Lloyd. He remains in custody until he has his day in court.

Aaron Hernandez was arrested in 2013 and charged with the multiple felonies including the murder of Odin Lloyd. He remains in custody until he has his day in court.

The adage innocent until proven guilty does not apply in the court of public opinion and the worse the alleged crime, the harder it is for the athlete to maintain a positive public image until the resolution of their legal conflict. This disparity stems from the lack of information an accused athlete will provide about legal issues which they face. Legally, it is prudent for the athlete to say as little as possible. The burden of proof is on the state (or government) to find enough evidence to charge and eventually convict the person they accuse of committing a crime. Although some information is available to the public, fans would like answers sooner than later. However, the criminal justice system does not move swiftly so accused athletes can find themselves at the center of questions they are legally required to answer publicly for months or even years before there is a resolution to the case.

Michael Vick has worked extremely hard to repair his image after being convicted for various crimes related to dog fighting in 2007. Vick has been a model citizen since returning to the NFL in 2009.

Michael Vick has worked extremely hard to repair his image after being convicted for various crimes related to dog fighting in 2007. Vick has been a model citizen since returning to the NFL in 2009.

The athletes involved in legal issues get far more attention than the victims in the same case because the athlete is already a public persona before the legal matters were introduced. The public’s fascination with the athlete’s legal outcome seems to do a disservice to the loved ones of the victims (alleged or confirmed). If an athlete is guilty of a crime, they have far greater issues than the public’s opinion of them. Yet, if that athlete wants to continue a career in sports, winning back the favor of the public is important. However, if an athlete is not guilty or falsely accused of a crime, that athlete does not receive a public apology from all who assumed that athlete’s guilt. When it comes to legal matters, the court of public opinion can gather the facts, speculate or even pontificate, without leaving  the judgment to the actual court system.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.

Limited support for black quarterbacks to succeed

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman.

By Charles Glover Jr.

There appears to be a change in the struggle for equal opportunities for the black quarterback at the top-level of football. A record of nine starting African-American quarterbacks were in the NFL this opening weekend. While there are clearly more chances given to black quarterbacks so far this season, the struggle for true equality seems elusive. Black quarterbacks face an uphill climb trying to prove themselves as long-term solutions that organizations believe can help them win the ultimate goal:a Super Bowl championship.

l. Robert Griffin III, c. Colin Kaepernick, r. Russell Wilson

l. Robert Griffin III, c. Colin Kaepernick, r. Russell Wilson.

Now that there are more black quarterbacks  being signed to teams, a more uniform evaluation of the quarterback position itself, if implemented, would signal a new, equitable approach. Each young quarterback wants to be viewed by their organization as a franchise quarterback, a quarterback that organizations can feel comfortable with. NFL teams want to be able to believe that their quarterbacks will ultimately lead them to the Super Bowl prize over a period of several years. Currently, there are only three out of 32 teams that have black quarterbacks who definitively fit that criteria: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Cam Newton and Michael Vick can also join that franchise quarterback list with stellar plays this season. That would bring the total to five black quarterbacks out of 32 NFL teams.

Michael Vick, Josh Freeman. Current starting quarterbacks fighting for future security.

Michael Vick and Josh Freeman, current starting quarterbacks who are fighting for future security.

The new struggle for black quarterbacks is to be able to convince franchises that their success is something that the organization should invest in long-term. So far that struggle is still not being won on a consistent basis. The criteria that organizations use to determine which quarterback they will invest in long term vary. What is clear, however, is that the criteria have yet to favor a black quarterback in recent memory.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo

This past off-season Carson Palmer took his miserable starting record for the Oakland Raiders and parlayed that into a starting job with the Cardinals in Arizona.
Not to be outdone, Tony Romo cashed in on his goodwill with the Cowboys and signed a contract worth more than current Super Bowl defending champion quarterback Joe Flacco, despite Romo under-performing in consecutive seasons. It remains to be seen if Josh Freeman, current Buccaneers quarterback, or Michael Vick, current Eagles quarterback, will be so fortunate in landing future starting positions if their teams both fail to reach the playoffs this season. It seems unlikely, given past trends, that Vick and Freeman could imagine any scenario in which they would get salary increases if they underachieve in consecutive seasons like Romo and Palmer did.

Do the Carolina Panthers believe Cam Newton is their quarterback of the future?

Do the Carolina Panthers believe Cam Newton is their quarterback of the future?

While it is positive to see black quarterbacks anchoring teams, the jury is still out as to the extent of those chances being offered to them. It is up for discussion whether they are going to be judged the same way as their white counterparts. It appears as if black quarterbacks are held to a higher standard to perform while being given a shorter window and less support to excel. Black quarterbacks are pressured excessively to perform immediately.They are expected to produce stellar results with minimum time to grow and thrive. They must not only win games, but look good doing so, and display superior character in the process.

One can only hope that white quarterbacks will be judged by this same high standard going forward. However, if the current pattern is a guide, such equal expectation of accountabilty for white quarterbacks seems to be a long shot. Somehow, it seems as if black quarterbacks are expected to produce and excel right away while white quarterback are nurtured, coddled, supported and then rewarded with exorbitant contracts, even when they fail to produce. The dichotomy sets a troubling precedent for the sport and should be addressed, for the integrity of the game, before this season ends. OnPointPress.net