Friday, October 03, 2003

Limbaugh defense: Allen Barra speaks out in support of "el Rushbo".
Consequently, it is equally absurd to say that the sports media haven't overrated Donovan McNabb because he's black. I'm sorry to have to say it; he is the quarterback for a team I root for. Instead of calling him overrated, I wish I could be admiring his Super Bowl rings. But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be.
He makes a sound argument based on the stats, and his comparison of McNabb to the often disregarded Brad Johnson is revealing. If this were ten years ago, I think I'd agree with Barra and Limbaugh, because there was a time when the media was a cheerleader for black quarterbacks of questionable talent. Exhibit A, Rodney Peete, who's survived in the NFL as a backup, albeit an effective one. He's been beaten out of the starting job in Carolina by Jake Delhomme since the second half of game 1, after Peete failed to impress.

Exhibit B, Andre Ware. 'Nuff said.

Exhibit C, Kordell Stewart. Poor Slash defined overrated and overhyped.

Doug Williams was a successful quarterback, but never a great one, and Randall Cunningham, due in part to injuries, never got over the hump (although he was the most exiting quarterback to watch in his day, replaced now by Mike Vick). Most of the early black quarterbacks in the NFL showed flashes of brilliance, but were not, on whole, as successful as many hoped they would be. It's true, and no amount of righteousness today will change it (and as Barra alludes, it's okay).

But today it's passe. There are enough solid black QB'sin the leauge that the battle is, if not over, at least fading. McNabb is good, if not great, no matter what his color. So are Steve McNair and Duante Culpepper (if healthy). When Vick's knee heals, we'll see Randall Cunningham with an arm and some serious coaching and this week we'll see the second start of one of the toughest, most talented QB's around, of any color, Byron Leftwiche. The guy had to be carried to the line of scrimmage in his last college game, and was still throwing strikes and taking hits. He's the next Brett Favre (or maybe I'm overrating him, we'll see). And, most importantly, the media knows the black QB's have arrived. They're on to coaches now, and owners will be next. Rush wasn't so much wrong as he was late. And the ones who feel the sting of his criticism, today's players, are the ones who least deserve any stigma. They're there because they deserve it and will succeed or fail based on the quality of their play.

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