Monday, September 24, 2007

I dunno ...

This entire D-Mac/media/race thing strikes me as a little bit of old news, and a little bit of a non-story. I'm a little surprised, Pepe, that you see this as being as vast a problem as the protagonist apparently does, because I think it's a little thin.

Yes, a point is made of McNabb's color, because he's black and he plays quarterback and that's just the way it is. I, like you, get aggravated by "rocket-fueled legs" and idiocy of saying that McNabb's career is over if he can't run anymore. But I also don't quite see the malice here, or at least don't see the vitriol directed toward him as being any different in basic composition as other quarterbacks who struggle in massive (and caustic) media settings. I agree with the point that the Philly media's stance toward Donovan is horseshit, but there are two caveats: 1) I'm not sure big-R "Racism" is the motivating factor; and 2) I would blanch to think what Philly would have done to Rex Grossman/Kyle Boller/Akili Smith/Tim Couch/Drew Brees (he sucked early) ... in general, I can't imagine any focal-point athlete in that city being able to have a shitty game without someone writing that it's time for the backup.

Ultimately, we have to understand that columnists have to write about something, and that in the process of writing those things are probably going to fall back on stereotypes. And, sure, I'll buy that the Philly media has cast a more wary eye on Donovan than they would have Peyton Manning, though I'm pretty sure Manning would be known as "Truck-rally Redneck boy" if he had been drafted by the Eagles, because that's Manning's most obvious trait. Furthermore -- this is important to remember -- Manning was the most mocked quarterback in the league until winning the Superbowl. You might think Simmons' one stupid comment about McNabb is worthy of a punch to the face, but the Sports Guy has made a fucking career out of deriding the league's best signal-caller for the last five years. I have yet to hear the term "McNabb Face" in popular sports lexicon.

I'll be the first to say that the media's strange obsession with Favre is inappropriate, and by contrast the treatment of other quarterbacks then appears discriminatory. But I think it's less about Favre's whiteness than it is his ability to attract fanboys with his style of play, and the fact that he always looks unshaven. He's football's Darin Erstad, only with talent. He's also the exception to the rule; most QBs who perform like he does -- be they white, mobile or calculating -- would get taken to the woodshed.

I watched last night as the fortunes of a team that can't run the ball, has average-at-best wide receivers and a very mediocre offensive line, got nonetheless hung on the shoulders of a quarterback who has started roughly one season's worth of games. This isn't to say that Rex Grossman isn't deserving of criticism, but he's certainly not deserving of all the criticism. Chicago is a team with lots of problems, but the one behind center is going to get the most attention. That's just the way it is. And, whether or not anyone else is willing to accept it, McNabb's failures -- real or imagined -- have been on some of the league's biggest stages, like Manning's were. That's just the way it is: When you play in games that are being covered by 100 different columnists, you can expect dozens of ill-informed takes that ultimately rely heavily on stereotyping and cliches.

I'll also say that the injuries issue with McNabb is a big one. Yes, Simmons is an idiot, but there's a lot of justified worry (including some on your part, no?) that McNabb might just never be healthy for an entire season again. Now, you can call that bad luck, which is probably the case. But, again, writing, "He gets hurt a lot and no one knows why," makes for stupefyingly boring copy, which isn't exactly going to fly in Philly. So, columnists will stretch to explain the otherwise unexplainable, which leads to a lot of what I think both you and D-Mac perceive as unfair treatment. Again, while hypotheticals like this are usually dumb because there's no good way to verify it, I think any wicked-talented quarterback with that track record in that city goes through pretty much the exact same thing, only with different adjectives.

You know, I read over this, and then I think of "rocket-fueled legs," and I understand why you're so adamant about this. But, shit, it's an argument blog, so I'll leave it be.

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