Conspiracy, Racism, and White Privilege; the Hurdles of a Black NFL Quarterback.

As I watched the Super bowl between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, I anticipated a great game between two great teams. I thought the game would go down as another classic game to remember. Under one minute left, Denver up 24-21, and Cam Newton would have the ball and lead his offense to the end zone with a brilliant drive to cap off his MVP season. I understood that the Broncos had the top ranked defense in the league. However, Cam was a one man cavalry that had the arm and feet to will his offense to victory…or so I thought.
Needless to say the Broncos solidified the theory that defense wins championships as they neutralized Cam and his offense all game en route to a 24-10 victory. The only things exciting about the Super Bowl was the hype leading towards it, the pregame show, and the halftime show. The game itself was pretty anti climatic as there were a lot of stalled drives, monotonous play and silly mistakes. I guess one can attribute some of that to the Denver defense. But still , in spite of all of that I thought there would be some excitement even in a 24-10 game. When the Broncos were blown out by the Seahawks two years ago in the Super Bowl, the defense was dominating and put on an exciting performance.

Things got interesting after the Super Bowl though. There was harsh criticism of Cam Newton of his display of bad sportsmanship and attitude when he walked out of the post game press conference. He got it from everybody. From the twitter assaults to former NFL players. One former player, Bill Romanowski, was quoted saying (tweeting),”You will never last in the NFL with that attitude. The world doesn’t revolve around you, boy!” His tweet, along with a barrage of others calling him, “pussy”, “nigger”, “crybaby”, and “arrogant” filled up social media post Super Bowl. To add insult to injury, there were rumblings that perhaps the game was fixed so that the much heralded deity that is Peyton Manning could finish his Hall of Fame career with a storybook ending.

Let’s say the allegations of Cam Newton throwing the game was true. Does one not see the correlation that once again, another black athlete is objectified to raise the benevolence of his white counterpart? Peyton Manning is football royalty. He supposedly represents all that is right in the NFL. How quickly we forget the time when he walked off the field without shaking anyone’s hand after his loss in Super Bowl 44 to Drew Brees and the Saints? the general consensus was that it was his competitive spirit and passion to want to win the game. Cam was more than gracious in his defeat and showed respect and sportsmanship when he congratulated Manning after the game. However he is maligned for the post game interview. Can we not attribute his sour attitude to competitive nature? after all, he did shake his opponents’ hands. Not to mention that the other issue that wasn’t brought up was that the media had both teams in the same room at the same time interviewing the players. I don’t know if that is a regular occurrence but I don’t think anyone who invests such emotion and dedication to a game and ends up on the losing end cares to hear what the winning opposition has to say.

This isn’t the only incident where the black quarterback is looked at with a different lens than his white counterpart. Michael Vick spent his prime years in prison for dog fighting and was eviscerated by sports fans all over the country. Not to make any excuses for him but in certain areas and upbringings in the South, dog fighting as well as cockfighting is a culture. However animal cruelty is animal cruelty however you slice it, but so is human cruelty in the context of sexual assault and misogyny of which Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger never paid a penance for be it legally or in the court of public opinion. Troubled Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is facing domestic violence charges in addition to his already perceived immature behavior off the field. Perceived? yes. Judged harshly? no. Vilified in social media? No. Why? it’s simple: a microcosm of white privilege raring it’s ugly head. The white athletes of the world just simply make immature mistakes. They need to grow up. The black athletes of the world are monsters, creeps and thugs. Any mistake the black athlete makes is used to define them. The white athlete is not judged on that merit. The quarterback, black or white, is the face of the franchise and organization. He is the leader on the field and the extension of the coach. Unfortunately for the black quarterback the pressure is triple the amount to uphold character and integrity on and off the field. He comes into the league already with three hurdles in front of him: conspiracy, racism, and white privilege.


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