“Nothing against other races, but right now African-Americans are just more athletic. And sometimes white running backs and corners might be intimidated. You watch someone do a drill in front of you that’s bigger, stronger and faster than you and you might think, How am I supposed to do that?” - Jammal Brown, right tackle, Washington Redskins
In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of a study about standardized testing for African-American students. The students were given a standardized test twice. The first time they took the test by itself. Later, they completed a questionnaire before the test. One of the questions asked the students to identify their race. Test scores dropped 10% on the second test. Were the students influenced by negative stereotypes of black scholarship? Might a similar problem affect white kids who get to practice and find they're the only white kid playing an extremely athletic position that’s dominated by African-Americans?
"Running back and cornerback are two positions where you either have it or you don’t. They’re extremely athletic positions. I’ve seen some white people that can play both positions and I’ve seen some that can’t. Just like I have with black athletes at those positions also. It really depends on the person more than anything." - Wayne Chambers, linebacker coach Missouri State University
We ignored Magic Johnson’s lack of athletic ability but we pointed at Larry Bird’s. Rex Chapman and Brent Barry could jump out of gyms but didn't have many posters made of them. It wasn't mentioned in polite, PC football circles, but people found it odd that former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams and Hall of Famer Warren Moon weren’t scrambling quarterbacks. All of the black quarterbacks we’d seen before—and there weren't many—were fleet of foot, so why weren’t these two? It was hard to believe until you saw it because you hadn’t seen it before.
Maybe white kids aren’t seeing enough white running backs and cornerbacks and don’t think they can play those positions. Even if they do think they can play, it’s possible they may have a coach who doesn’t think they can play the positions because the coach hasn’t seen enough whites at running back and cornerback himself.
Peyton Hillis played fullback at the University of Arkansas. Fullback is the position big white high school running backs are switched to when they enter college, because they aren’t athletic enough to play running back. Hillis was at Arkansas at the same time Felix Jones and Darren McFadden were there. Despite playing behind and blocking for two NFL first rounders, Hillis had a remarkable career at Arkansas. For his efforts, he wasn't taken until the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was the teams starting fullback, but didn’t get the chance to show his abilities at running back until the starter went down. Hillis did well in 2008 and led the team in rushing. What happened in 2009? He got no love at all and was traded at the end of the season. In 2010, Peyton surprised everyone by rushing for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.
OTHER SPORTS AND POSITIONS
"A lot of times coaches are recruiting in southern inner cities like Dallas, Houston, Miami, etc. These cities don’t have many white athletes. It just depends on the player. If some more suburban areas were recruited as hard as the inner city areas you might find more." - Anonymous Big Ten defensive backs coach
Maybe the good white athletes are just playing other sports or other positions. Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner can flat out fly. Jim Edmonds (from a few years ago) and Jacoby Ellsbury are also exceptional athletes that one could see on a football field. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, who both have good speed and change of direction, could help revive the extinct positions as well.
What about the white wide receivers? Wes Welker, Anthony Gonzalez, Jordan Shipley, Tim Dwight, and Matt Jones are all exceptional athletes. It’s said a cornerback is a wide receiver who can’t catch. So wouldn’t that make a wide receiver a cornerback who can? How many corners truly play at a dominant level in the NFL? Five tops. Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha, Charles Woodson, Asante Samuel, and Champ Bailey. Everyone else gets burned countless times each Sunday. Might Welker be more valuable to the Pats as a shutdown corner? Or would that just be too weird?
Hell, even the five guys just mentioned get worked as well. There has to be at least one white guy with enough athletic ability to perform as well as the mediocre corners playing right now. So why is it that when San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weedle was coming out of the University of Utah as a cornerback, he was switched to safety? Weddle was damn good in college. Did the Chargers even give him the chance to play cornerback?
"It’s more of a body type. Look at Deion, Nnamdi, Revis, they all have broad shoulders and long arms, very angular, lanky bodies. They all have exceptional speed as well." - Davin Joseph, Pro Bowl right guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Have you heard of Christophe Lemaitre? He’s a white sprinter from Annecy, France. At 21 years old, he’s the fastest person of non-West African ancestry....like ever. He earned that distinction this past July when he ran a 9.92 100m at the French National Championships in Albi. Lemaitre’s 9.92 at 21 is faster than former World record holder, Asafa Powell, who held the distinction from May 2005 until May 2008. Lemaitre is also faster than two-time world champion, Tyson Gay, was at 21. What’s the excuse for young Christophe not being good enough? If Raiders owner, Al Davis, knew about this kid he would have drafted him.
The next great white running back hope might be Rice University tailback, Sam McGuffie. Watch him on YouTube and you’ll see why. And Indiana’s Greg Heban walked on at cornerback last year and played in all 12 games for the Hoosiers, making ESPN.com’s All-Freshman team.
At some point, there will be a white corner who’s going to shock the football world. He’ll have flash and dash, maybe some tattoos and a cool visor, too, but he’ll also have instincts, smarts, and toughness…a white Deion Sanders. Whenever that day comes, we'll be waiting. It’s hard to deny that when a white guy is toting the rock from the I-formation or in man-to-man coverage on the island that it doesn’t look strange in a really freaking cool sort of way.
It shouldn’t matter, but in case you're wondering, Richard is black. The stereotypical black guy too, former Division 1 athlete, loves chicken and fat asses. But he's also as dangerous as a category 5 hurricane because he has a Master’s Degree and awesome credit. Read more of his stuff at 6Magazine.com and follow him at 6Magazine.