Monday, September 24, 2007

But Donovan McNabb is not Rex Grossman!

That's really the crux of my whole counterargument every time somebody takes the "lots of white QBs get criticized, so it's not racism" angle. While I agree with just about everything you said in that post except for the Grossman comparison -- the Manning and Favre comparisons function on a lot of different levels, and could each be entire posts in themselves, but I don't really want to devote the time to writing them -- I just really don't think you can compare McNabb to any of the white QBs who've gotten ripped like he has. (Especially because, really, only Rex Grossman can claim anything near the treatment McNabb's gotten.)

You (and a lot of others) point to Grossman. In a comment to my first post, C mentions Eli Manning, Grossman, Matt Leinart, and Chad Pennington. The criticism of those white QBs means nothing whatsoever relative to Donovan McNabb. Let's take a look at that list:

Matt Leinart -- has not yet started a full season's worth of NFL games, and has never done anything of particular note as a professional.
Sheli Manning -- has gone to two playoff games. In the first one he threw three picks and the Giants lost 23-0. In the second one he played adequately and the Giants lost again.
Chad Pennington -- well, at least he's been to a Pro Bowl, which gives him the honor of being the only one of the bunch remotely appropriate to mention in the same sentence. Then again, that was before those two major shoulder surgeries that made his arm so weak he can't throw a football forty yards.
Rex Grossman -- has thrown less TDs in his career than INTs. Has posted a quarterback rating of zero multiple times. Career QB rating is 69.3. Won two postseason games in his career despite having a career postseason QB rating that's even worse, at 67 and change.

And then look at McNabb. Five-time Pro Bowler. Finished second in MVP voting during his second year in the season, and again in 2004. Career QB rating of 85.5. Has the highest winning percentage of any active quarterback with 95 or more starts. Has more playoff wins (7) than any QB in Eagles history. Has the second-highest TD/INT ratio in NFL history. Holds both the first and second longest strings of consecutive completions, and actually once completed 25 straight passes against the Chargers, but was disqualified for having to spike the ball. Has rushed for nearly as many TDs in his career as Grossman has passed for. He also once threw for four touchdowns on a broken leg, something Tom Brady would be bronzed for doing, although you'd never hear about that in all the fragile talk.

Not to mention that he single-handedly reversed the fortunes of a miserable franchise. He got drafted by a 3-13 team and took it to the NFC title game two years later, and for three more years thereafter. And -- not that you'd ever hear this from anybody -- he was actually pretty fucking good in that Super Bowl, throwing for the third-highest yardage total in SB history and three TDs. They lost by three points, folks. There's no good reason to call McNabb a choker for that performance -- it's not like he pulled a Hasselbeck.

So, do white quarterbacks get criticized? Yes! Nobody ever said they didn't! Especially bad white quarterbacks! But no white quarterback who accomplished what Donovan McNabb has would ever get treated like he does by the Philly fans, the Philly media, and the national media at large. It just wouldn't happen. Peyton Manning prior to last year is the only ballpark comparison, and the only shit I ever heard him take was from Pats fans like Simmons -- his hometown papers weren't roasting him for every press-conference slipup. He was an icon in Indy.

And then there's what none of our regular readers (except for B, I would imagine) seem to understand, nor would you have any reason to or way of doing so, since none of you have spent significant time among a major East Coast fan base. In places as segregated as Philadelphia and New York, sports teams become emblems for the racial tensions of the city. I have personally heard Donovan McNabb called the n-word in public by Philly fans. (I'm not even going to mention what I've heard Giants and Cowboys fans call him.) I've heard him called a spook. I've heard it insinuated and said outright that the reason he hasn't succeeded as a quarterback -- because apparently he hasn't, in the eyes of many -- was because he was black. A guy at the Bar once started talking to me about Philly sports and then said, "Well, just look at the numbers. How many black quarterbacks have won a Super Bowl? One? And how many white ones have? I'm not racist, I'm just a realist."

But when he brings up race, white people across the country get up in arms and start pointing to Rex fucking Grossman as if he's a token of their own cultural sensitivity, instead of just a bad quarterback who gets rightly criticized. Because that's what white sports fans do: they claim racism isn't a concern, or at least not when it comes to them. They claim mentioning race is like playing a card, as if nation-building slavery and separate but equal were just game pieces used by blacks to move up a space. Well, in this case, the comparison just doesn't hold up. If you want to convince me that D-Mac is wrong, you're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than Rex Grossman, or even Peyton Manning.

If you want to read a couple of pretty interesting articles from other people who agree with him and know a thing or two about the Philly sports culture, click here and here.


b said...

Pepe, a quick question, I'm not attacking you because I agree with a lot of things you and Diesel are saying, but.... doesn't this issue say more about the city, the fans and the media of Philadelphia than anything else? Was Randall Cunningham treated like this? Is anybody really surprised that the face of another Philly organization (Barkley, AI, Lindros) takes a lot more shit than he should? Isn't this response from Philly fans, who handle success about as well as abject failure, par for the course? I guess when I hear "disgruntled athlete" and "Philadelphia" in the same sentence, I'm prone to believe history.

Okay, so maybe it's a few questions...

b said...

Having read that second link, I like McNabb even more. Funny how by being a touch salty, he's further setting himself up as another stereotype, "the bitter black man," when he's just being honest. And nothing he's saying is wrong.

Big C said...

I have never had the any involvement or contact with the New York/Philly sports fandom, so I'll concede this point to you.

I have, however, had some pretty significant contact (not a whole hell of a lot, though) with the Michigan and Boston sports followship, and haven't observed what you have in Philly. In Essexville, MI, where no one gives a damn about football, btw, they LOVE them some Curtis Granderson. My uncle Mike, from Worcester, thinks that Bill Russell is the best thing that ever happened to basketball, and has argued the point vehemently on two non-consecutive occasions.

I'm not trying to claim that myself or anyone in my family doesn't ever notice race when it comes to sports. Show me someone who claims to be 100% colorblind, and I'll show you someone who has something to hide. I've cracked a joke or two about 'calculating' pitchers or 'entertaining' quarterbacks, but it is all part of the light-hearted, innocuous version of the big R that just about everyone exhibits at one point or another of their life. It should also be mentioned that this goes both ways, of course. For every 'rocket-fueled legs' stereotype, there is a 'deceptively fast', 'fiery' and, my favorite, 'calculating' adjective out there attached to the other races. I am certain that, somewhere in America, there is a table of African-Americans enjoying a good laugh over a slow/lame/stuffy/unable-to-dance honkey joke as we speak.

But none of this excuses some of the treatment D-Mac has received in the media, or, apparently, from the Philly fans. I think you are right to question the validity of claims for his job, but I still think that you are a bit off by claiming that racism plays such a large role in all of this. How can it? It baffles me that someone who watches/reports on a sport dominated by black men would subject themselves to the NFL. If they are such staunch racists, why don't they limit themselves to hockey? I tend to agree with Connor and B; that all of this has more to do with the fact that Donovan is the center of the sports word in an acerbic, sports-crazed town than racism. I acknowledge that the big R plays a part, but it just seems that you are making a mountain out of a molehill, and are little overzealous in squirting the 'racist' label on anyone who dares to makes a buck in an overstatement-wrought sports media.

Aside: I believe that the 'racist' accusation is not one to be made lightly. This distinction needs to be reserved for those who use racial distinctions to commit horrible and violent acts on other human beings (Jena), and not for silly sportswriters trying to get the attention of an increasingly daft readership. After all, no one is suggesting that anyone cause physical harm to Donny Mac, like they are for Tom Brady (See the KSK article). Talk about undue vitriol; Brady has been nothing but polite, respectful, and good at football. But there is more bitter diatribe laid against him than anyone can possibly justify. It can't all be race, dude. Maybe, just maybe, some of those who rail against D-Mac are as jealous of his success as those Brady-haters are of the Tominator's.

Brett said...

It's Elisha, not Sheli. (seriously...Elisha Nelson Manning.)

Pepe said...

C -- Look, I like you and consider you exceptionally intelligent and understand what you're saying, and I appreciate the opinions you offer here -- really, I do -- but I really couldn't disagree with you more on this.

I think you -- and most of the sports media -- are grossly oversimplifying the racial dynamic of the NFL and its fans, particularly as it relates to cities with legacies of racial tensions as bitter and violent as Philly's. Why don't they watch hockey? Because nobody watches hockey. Because hockey's a Canadian sport. Watching black people play football doesn't make somebody not racist. It's ridiculous to even suggest that.

And this whole "maybe it's Philly" talk, coming from a lot of non-residents, is frankly starting to irritate me. (Not to single you out, C, or B, or A or X or Z -- you guys are not the only ones to say it). It makes zero sense to say, "maybe it's not race, maybe it's just Philly."

Yes, Philly is acerbic. But Philly is acerbic partly because of race!. It's asinine to suggest that Philly's combative dynamic exists outside of the question of race. You're talking about the city of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the MOVE bombing, and a skyrocketing murder rate, almost all of which occur in West and North Philly, the "black neighborhoods," the ones that have escaped gentrification.

It's not about race, it's about Philly? That's like saying it's not about heat, it's about Phoenix.

Racism is not a term reserved for violent acts, nor is it a molehill, in this situation or any other. That's like saying that playing quarterback is easy because it looks that way on TV. Go ask a young black male if racism is a molehill.

Big C said...

"It's not about race, it's about Philly? That's like saying it's not about heat, it's about Phoenix."

Touche. 'But it's a DRY racism!'Hi-oh!

Maybe you are right, perhaps it is just wishful thinking that this racism/sports media issue is just more sensationalism on behalf of an overstated medium. It had crossed my mind that simply because I see things a certain way, that doesn't mean that "everyone else" (the fans/media in question) won't view or act on the issue differently. It could certainly be that I am just a little out-of-touch with the East Coast mentality vis-a-vis the sports world. Hell, I even see a little of that here.

For the record, I never claimed that racism was a molehill. Specifically, I opined that racism with respect to D-Mac and/or sports was a molehill, but no need to quible on this point as I see your point overall.

Fact is, neither one of us know what it is like to be a young, black man in this country, unless there is something you are not telling me. However, I do know what it is like to be a minority and experience the more violent aspects of racial prejudice in a community. I can't speak to your experiences, of course, but the point I was trying to make at the end of my comment was more along the lines of trying to put this whole issue into perspective; what people are saying about the local center (attempted soccer reference) isn't so much a concern to me while I'm running from a group of cholos, who are going to kick my ass for no other reason than that I am a gabacho, on my way home from school.

And even though nobody watches it, hockey fackin' rules, dood!

So, fuckitall, I lost this one. Had to happen sometime. Now, I can't wait to read yours or Diesel's take on the NFL cheerleader catastrophe. Four words: Worse. Than. The. Holocaust.

Diesel said...

What the fuck are you talking about? Cheerleader catastrophe?!?!? Did someone stipulate that they can't be whores anymore?

b said...

Dear Pepe,

What are you talking about? I can’t get over the fact that there’s no difference at all!

Bill O’Reilly

b said...

And my "maybe it's just Philly" take is an aside that includes race. McNabb wouldn't be treated the same way he is in Philadelphia if he had the same results in Denver, just as Drew Brees wouldn't be treated like McNabb does in Philly if he had the exact same results. So, while race is certainly a major issue in the way he's treated, it doesn't help that he plays in Philadelphia, a city with explosive race relations, a hyper-critical fanbase and media and a history of alienating its star athletes.

That's not an excuse by any means, but I'm not surprised by it. He would experience the same comments anywhere else, but it's more magnified by where he plays.

Pepe B. Secessionist said...

I deleted your comment, Sleazy, because we do not speak that team's name on this blog until this pivotal weekend is done.

Anonymous said...

u fucking hegemonist