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Rush Limbaugh just offered an opinion. That was his job, what ESPN hired him to do. None of the panelists took offense to his opinion, and in fact Michael Irvin (one of the black guys on the panel) said "Rush has a point." I thought so, too. Here's what he said: "I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team." I noticed that all the stories, including the rejoinder that this thread is based on, takes the liberty of deleting all of the "I think"s from the quote, thereby tainting it as having been said as fact rather than opinion. As Shaq would say, that's media trickery. Meow. This "social concern", the NFL's minority mandate concerning the hiring of new coaches is no secret, and, like coaching, quarterbacking has been traditionally dominated by white men. This is changing in today's NFL, but there hasn't been a Superbowl-winning black quarterback since Doug Williams in '88, though Steve McNair came close a few years back. But I digress. "I don't think he's been that good from the get-go." Let's look at the facts. Last season, McNabb got hurt after going 7-3 as the starter. If I remember correctly, he finished half a game on a broken ankle. Amazing. Then the Eagles went 5-1 without him with a third stringer at the helm. The defense did carry the team the second half of the season. McNabb came back for the playoffs and lost. The Eagles were a good team, and McNabb had a decent season, but his role as the playmaker and the cornerstone of the team was suspect given the team's continued performance without him, his loss in the playoffs and his subsequent struggles opening the season at 1-2. This season, the hype was all about Michael Vick. Vick, the greatest quarterback sensation in decades, he was going to take Atlanta to the Superbowl. I believed Vick's hype. I was excited to watch him this season, as last year he just kept getting better and better. The guy has a rocket for an arm and he's accurate, not to mention his running game. That was before he broke his fibula, of course. (And we can all witness how well the Atlanta Falcons play without their quarterback to lead them. If Vick comes back and leads the team to the playoffs, we'll know his hype was well deserved.) After Vick went down, the big question was who now was the guy to watch? And the answer was McNabb. Or Culpepper. Two other quarterbacks who were scramblers, able to hurt defenses through the air or on the ground, two other guys who had the potential to be playmakers. Two guys who were sometimes exciting to watch. Two guys who were also black quarterbacks. All true enough, but these guys simply aren't Michael Vick. McNabb and Culpepper are great quarterbacks, but they were painted to be the best in the league, and it's just not true. Yet they were hyped up to be just that by an overzealous media looking for a Vick to take Vick's place. The problem is McNabb has accuracy issues. He always has. He'll miss a receiver by a country mile for no reason. Culpepper threw more interceptions last year than any other QB. Period. Last week, we all watched Gus Frerotte light it up as the Vikings improved to 4-0. Is Culpepper the the best QB in the league, or does he fill a role on a great team that's playing exceptional football this season? What would happen to the Eagles if Koy Detmer took over for McNabb? Interesting questions that can spark interesting discussions. Was the media "desirous that a black quarterback do well?" I think that's taking it a little far, but you have to admit, the trend of overhyping black quarterbacks has become commonplace enough to warrant a skeptical raised eyebrow or two. I think Rush's intent was to take a stab at the Minority Mandate applied to coaching and apply it to the other traditionally "white" position of football, the quarterback, while also bringing to light the fact that every year, black quarterbacks are overhyped in the preseason while white quarterbacks are virtually ignored. This trend could be for a variety of reasons, but the most obvious of these is that black quarterbacks are simply more fun to watch. A white quarterback will take a three step drop and throw the ball, or he'll get sacked, or he'll scramble out of the pocket and gain a couple yards before running out of bounds or sliding feet first before anyone can hit him. A black quarterback will take a three step drop, juke an End, duck away from a Tackle, outrun a linebacker and pump fake before tucking the ball away, juking another linebacker and gaining a first down before lowering his helmet and running over a safety. Which is more fun to watch? As a reporter, who are you going to write about and say is the best quarterback in the league? I'm generalizing, but maybe you see my point. But this, of course, is Rush Limbaugh. ESPN hired him to be controversial, he delivers, and then people get all bent out of shape about it. ESPN panics and lets him go, and everyone cheers like we should applaud the punishing of controversial opinionated people and support their being forced to resign over speaking their opinions out loud. Fascism, yippee! People only want America to stand for freedom of speech if what's being said sounds good to them. Right or wrong, the man should be allowed to speak his opinion, politically correct or not.
posted by David Dark at 06:20 AM on October 05
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