Russell Wilson’s quiet leadership is exemplary among black quarterbacks

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hopes to lead his team to consecutive championships.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hopes to lead his team to consecutive championships.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On  Sunday, February 1, 2015, Russell Wilson has a chance to become back-to-back Super Bowl champion. There are only a handful of quarterbacks that have that distinction on their resume, most recently his opponent on Sunday, Tom Brady. However, Russell Wilson has already achieved an historic accomplishment by being the first African-American quarterback to reach the Super Bowl in consecutive years.

Steve McNair had a great deal of success in his career, including his play in the wildly entertaining Super Bowl XXXIV.

Steve McNair had a great deal of success in his career, including his play in the wildly entertaining Super Bowl XXXIV.

Wilson is the fourth African-American quarterback to play in the Super Bowl. In 2004 Donovan McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl and in 1999 Steve McNair also led the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl. McNair and McNabb fell short of leading their teams to victory and were ultimately unsuccessful in winning the Super Bowl.

McNabb fell short of Super Bowl victory in 2004, but led the Eagles to several NFC title games.

McNabb fell short of Super Bowl victory in 2004, but led the Eagles to several NFC title games.

In 2012, Colin Kaepernick surprised many by leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in just his 10th career start. He narrowly missed a second opportunity to appear in the Super Bowl last season, losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Wilson, Kaepernick, and Cam Newton are few of the young African-American quarterbacks who are changing perceptions about the position with their varied styles of winning.

Doug Williams put forth one of the best Super Bowl performances of any quarterback when he led the Redskins to victory in 1987.

Doug Williams put forth one of the best Super Bowl performances of any quarterback when he led the Redskins to victory in 1987.

In 1987 Doug Williams guided the Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl and was victorious over the Denver Broncos. Williams’ Super Bowl appearance is not only distinctive because he is African-American, but also because of his superb performance that day. Williams orchestrated a 42 -10 rout of the Denver Broncos with 340 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, en route to being named Super Bowl MVP. As successful as Williams and the Redskins were that day, they were unsuccessful in repeating the following year.

Marshawn Lynch (l) and Richard Sherman (r) have been the main attractions when discussing the Seahawks during this week's media sessions.

Marshawn Lynch (l) and Richard Sherman (r) have been the main attractions when discussing the Seahawks during this week’s media sessions.

Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks hope to add their names to the history books with repeat Super Bowl victories on Sunday against the New England Patriots. While many of Wilson’s teammates like Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman have become major headlines during media week, Wilson has flown under the radar. However, his importance to the game cannot be understated.

Wilson hopes this Super Bowl ends the same way the last one did, with the Seahawks victorious.

Wilson hopes this Super Bowl ends the same way the last one did, with the Seahawks victorious.

Wilson is the unquestioned leader on offense and will have to play a much better game than he did in the NFC championship game if the Seahawks are to prevail this Sunday. So far in his career Wilson has been successful in overcoming challenges, so there’s no reason to believe Super Bowl XLIX will be any different.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. Is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

Mike Shanahan’s saga of failure continues, RGIII is benched

Robert Griffin III is benched by his coach and will consider his future and ways to improve.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Washington Redskins easily win the title of the most dysfunctional team in the National Football League (NFL) with the news that they have benched starting quarterback Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season. The decision highlights more question marks about the future of a franchise that is performing so poorly that the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders look like well-oiled machines in comparison. Not even Scandal’s talented Olivia Pope could fix this debacle.

Head coach Mike Shanahan’s struggles continue while the Redskins seem to be in turmoil.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is on the proverbial hot seat as the Redskins endure the third losing season in Shanahan’s four-year tenure. The news yesterday that Kirk Cousins would start the remainder of the season raised eyebrows in the football world. Senior ESPN writer Ed Werder expressed surprise stating: “This is an unprecedented move to make when the starting quarterback is healthy.”

2nd year quarterback Kirk Cousins is the starter for the remainder of the season for the Redskins.

2nd year quarterback Kirk Cousins is the starter for the remainder of the season for the Redskins.

The change in the quarterback position sends a confusing message to a team struggling with leadership concerns and overall poor performance. The change also endangers the most valuable trade asset the team has, since Cousins is a second year quarterback who has looked good in the few games he has played so far. Shanahan stated “RGIII has taken too many hits and we want to protect him,” as the reason for making the change. If Cousins takes the same  hits as Griffin did while behind center, it will be interesting to see if he will retain the same kind of trade value.

The relationship between Shanahan and Griffin has been far from harmonious, which further complicates the situation. The perceived animosity between the two raises questions about Shanahan’s true motives. Is he trying to sabotage Griffin while designing a play to be fired as well? While speculation runs rampant that the coach is trying to get fired, the implication is that Shanahan does not trust Griffin to protect himself or the team to protect the star quarterback.

Jeff Fisher (l) and Vince Young (r) also experienced a tension filled relationship for the Titans.

Jeff Fisher (l) and Vince Young (r) also experienced a tension-filled relationship while they were with the Titans.

However, the rumors that Shanahan was not enamored with RGIII coming out of college brings to mind another coach/quarterback relationship that has mixed results:Jeff Fisher and Vince Young with the Tennessee Titans. In both situations, the star quarterback was beloved by the owner and earned Rookie of the Year honors while essentially saving the coach’s job. Also, the quarterback became a rising star in the league and quickly fell out of favor with the head coach. The Fisher/Young situation ended with neither being a member of the Titans, just five seasons later (2006-2011).

Shanahan’s questionable decision to bench RGIII also brings to mind his unceremonious firing from the Denver Broncos in 2008 after his decision to draft Jay Cutler to replace Jake Plummer despite Plummer leading the Broncos to the AFC title game in 2005. Shanahan’s decision backfired in spectacular fashion and the team disintegrated into a chaotic mix, sealing his ouster by owner Pat Bowlen.

As the disastrous Redskins season evolves, the Shanahan/Griffin union seems to be irreparably harmed. Of course, their deteriorating relationship has not been a secret since the season began. Also, questions still abound about Shanahan’s decision to play Griffin last year when he was obviously hurt and the impact that ultimately had on his need for surgery and RGIII’s performance this year. The Washington faithful have a hard time feeling confident that their team knows what it is doing. Die-hard Redskins fan Steve Taylor’s reaction to yesterday’s news sums up the fans’ collective mood:

“I feel as though the coach and his son need to be fired,” Taylor said. That sentiment is widespread among Redskins fans and it is hard for them to remain hopeful for next season. The trade that helped them acquire RGIII cost them what seems like a top five pick in next season’s draft. Maybe the Redskins fans will be able to at least take solace in their hated rival Dallas Cowboys collapsing in December again. Maybe.–OnPointPress.net–

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

NFL and NCAAF face ongoing legal onslaught

NCAA President Mark Emmert

NCAA President Mark Emmert

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Professional and collegiate American football leagues are doing what they can to win lawsuits that threaten to further damage their image. The growing revenue generated by the NCAAF and NFL on a yearly basis has brought greater scrutiny to their decision-making process when it comes to dealing with public incidents. One of the greatest threats to the enormous popularity of American football is the litany of scandals involving money and large football governing institutions.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Shortly before the start of the 2013 season, the NFL reached a settlement of $765 million in a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit was initiated by former NFL players alleging that the NFL withheld valuable medical information that led to serious post-career injuries for the players. The NCAA is in the midst of its own class-action suit led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. The NCAA suit involves the assertion that the NCAA unfairly profited from selling the likeness of NCAA athletes after the eligibility of those athletes expired. The suit is joined by a group of former NCAA athletes who are challenging the right to be compensated for their likeness. The players also want to be compensated beyond their scholarships with a portion of the lucrative television revenue contracted by the various networks and the NCAA.

The outcry from the NFL settlement immediately pointed to the fact that the settlement did not force the NFL to admit any wrong-doing in addition to the settlement being  financially being exceptionally favorable to the NFL financially. This has not changed the perception, however, that the long-term effects of playing football are potentially serious despite many advances in protective gear and better medical advances. The ex-NFL players who were involved in the suit suffered from an array of serious injuries ranging from extreme depression to brain trauma. The argument over the long-term effects of head injuries has carried over to the current field of play where the penalties for plays where players target the head have become as punitive as they have ever been in the NFL.

Current Houston Texans running back admits to receiving additional financial benefits that were against the rules while attending the University of Tennessee.

Current Houston Texans running back admits to receiving additional financial benefits that were against the rules while attending the University of Tennessee.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson was recently fined an all-time NFL high $100,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit and Tennessee Titans safety was fined $42,000 for a similar play. The NFL is working hard to change the narrative of player safety from NFL negligence to player responsibility. Houston Texans running back Arian Foster openly admitted to taking money while playing at the University of Tennessee. This past Saturday players from different collegiate teams wore patches on their jerseys as a protest to the NCAA rules that prevent them from earning benefits using their own likeness or signature.

Former UCLA Bruins basketball player Ed O'Bannon heads a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA that has major financial implications for the NCAA and future NCAA athletes.

Former UCLA Bruins basketball player Ed O’Bannon leads a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA that has major financial implications for the NCAA and future NCAA athletes.

These developments combined with the money-related reports associated with football has changed the conversation when it comes to the popularity of these sports. The NCAA has received millions of dollars over the past several seasons in television contracts. Meanwhile, momentum grows for players to be better compensated for generating the interest that leads to those contracts. The NFL has earned billions of dollars over the last several years. The league is facing a groundswell of concern over the long-lasting effects of this violent game on its players. American football, in general, is facing a challenge that boxing and hockey have faced over previous decades: trying to balance the degree of violence in their sport while ensuring the continued safety and appeal of the game.