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McNabb Overrated?

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Here’s what Rush Limbaugh had to say:

“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.” (LA Times)

McNabb is a solid quarterback, but he is not the reason the Eagles win. Look at last season: McNabb gets injured — Eagles keep winning. That McNabb is overrated is obvious to anyone who is not a diehard Eagles fan (or a wannabe Eagles fan like someone I know, who’s seen Philadelphia only once); that he is overrated because the media wanted a good black quarterback is questionable, but it is definitely not outrageous.

So far this year, two other black quarterbacks have the highest QB ratings. Of course, it’s early in the season, and if you look at last year’s stats, a different story is told. Then again, stats don’t mean all that much. Michael Vick, for example, finished middle of the pack in QB rating last season, yet it is fairly obvious that Vick and Falcons are synonymous; the team doesn’t win without Vick.

All that information would point to Rush’s being perhaps too judgmental of the media’s preferences according to quarterbacks. But Rush, while being honest enough to confront race on a national scale such as NFL Primetime, didn’t say everything. The fact that McNabb is black is not the sole reason that he became a media darling (there are many black quarterbacks — one of whom, Michael Vick, is the best quarterback since Elway left, and another, Byron Leftwich, is going to be one of the best in the next ten years — you heard it here first); McNabb became a media darling because he is black and can pass.

The unspoken racial stereotype in all professional sports is that black guys are the best athletes and white guys are the best specialists. NBA: blacks can dunk, whites can shoot; MLB: blacks can hit, whites can pitch; NFL: blacks can run, whites can pass (and kick); NHL: whites can skate, blacks don’t play hockey. Despite personal opinions on the subject, these are the stereotypes. Rightly or wrongly, the media wants to eliminate these stereotypes. Therefore, a black player who excels in a stereotypically “white” skill becomes very popular with the media and a lot of pressure is put on him. Likewise, a white player who excels in a stereotypically “black” skill is also a media darling (e.g., Moss’s pal Jason Williams). The media is fairly consistent on this across white/black distinctions.

But that is the truth. McNabb is overrated because he is a black quarterback who plays, more or less, like a white quarterback. He breaks the racial stereotype, and the media (once again, rightly or wrongly) touts him for that. Either way Rush was right.

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About Chase

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Chase, afraid of controversy you are not. I think your analysis of the media is right on, though. Anyone who busts racial stereotypes – particularly if they good at something they aren’t “supposed” to be good at – get extra points and attention.

  • Taloran

    By ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer

    PHILADELPHIA – Donovan McNabb isn’t looking for an apology from Rush Limbaugh, who said he was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.

    It’s too late for that.

    “He said what he said. … I’m sure he’s not the only one that feels that way but it’s somewhat shocking to acutally hear that on national TV,” the Philadelphia Eagles (news)’ quarterback said of Limbaugh at a news conference Wednesday. “An apology would do no good because he obviously thought about it before he said it.”

  • http://mcfrank.blogspot.com Chris Arabia

    Thoughtful analysis. My favorite thing about McNabb, other than the double B, is that he broke his leg–and finished the game!

    The stereotyping this is rather perceptive. Regardless of whether you think Rush is a buttplug, we should encourage open discussion of the topic.

    I do think we have come a long way from the early days of Doug Williams, when I regularly heard people say that blacks were not smart enough to play QB. DW won more super bowls than Marino, Fouts, and Tarkenton combined.

    And SD didn’t want Vick. Between that and not using the cool unis all the time, what a bunch of goobers.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Chase’s football analysis is seriously off, so the rest of his analysis is too.

    McNabb is not a traditional “white style” dropback passer, but rather a prototypical “black” QB, in that he rushes often and well. In 2001, (he missed much of last season with injuries), he was second only to Kordell Stewart among QBS in rushing yards, and he had a much higher yards per carry. This year, he’s leading the team in rushing again. Only 5 active QBs have 2,000 career rushing yds, and he’s one of them, after only three years.

  • http://mcfrank.blogspot.com Chris Arabia

    fair enough.

    i think what chase was saying is that mcnabb is perceived as a smart qb, and many mental skanks have maintained that black qbs are dumb and get by on raw athleticism.

    what the numbers say is not really chase’s point, because he was talking about his perception of media perception.

    anyway, all chase said is that mcnabb can pass, and there has been an image, enforced by guys like kordell stewart, that blacks dont pass as well. mcnabb does everything well, and he has heart.

    i think the celebration of mcnabb stems from his obvious heart and talent and his role as the leader of a rejuvenated franchise in a northeastern city.

  • http://conservativecrust.com Chase

    ClubhouseCancer,

    I figured I would get a few knee-jerk comments like this, which is why I tried to make it clear in the post that I was not analyzing McNabb’s game at all, but rather talking about the media’s perception of McNabb.

    In fact, your point is just an extension of mine. McNabb is overrated as a “white”-style quarterback not as a quarterback in general (I think we’d agree he is still one of the best in the league). The media tried to portray him as something that he wasn’t in order to bust racial stereotypes and have something different to talk about.

    I intended to take nothing away from McNabb. He’s one of the best in the game; he’s just not groundbreaking like many in the media “hoped” he would be.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Woah, Arabia.
    Chase said black QBs are stereotyped as run-oriented, not as stupid. Smarts weren’t mentioned.

    McNabb is a classic scrambling, tuck-it-away-if-you’re-in-trouble kind of QB, the kind thought of as sterotypically black, and the opposite of how Chase described him. So Chase’s argument is faulty.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Perhaps Chase has just misstaed it. He wrote “he is a black quarterback who plays, more or less, like a white quarterback.”
    And that’s not true. If Chase is saying that the media THINKS he plays more or less like a white QB, that’s not true either. The Philly press, and the national press, has consistently portrayed him as an athletic, scrambling QB who loves to run, and that’s what he is. I’ve never heard him overpraised for his dropback passing skills, which are just pretty good.

    King Kaufman, writing in today’s salon, stated what sounds like the covnentional wisdom on mcNabb pretty accurately, I think:

    “He’s never been the most accurate passer around, but the passing ability he does have combined with his mobility and leadership make him one of the top quarterbacks in the game when he’s right.”

  • http://conservativecrust.com Chase

    “more or less” = something like Elway. McNabb’s style of quarterbacking is the modern style of quarterbacking. Nearly all the QBs playing in the pros today combine passing with mobility; the age of the pocket or drop-and-pass QB is, more or less, over. Do you disagree, C.C.?

    The stereotype is that black quarterbacks do not have the “all-round” modern game — they are just fast as hell. McNabb, as is evident in Kaufman’s comment, is known for his, more or less, all-round game not just the stereotypical “running-QB game.”

    Note that this stereotype has probably kept many black quarterbacks from getting to the NFL because the college game is more run-oriented; therefore, even successful college black quarterbacks were thought not to have “pro” skills.

    McNabb had the whole package and was successful in the pros. Perfectly situated to smash this stereotype. Likewise, he was and still is much talked-about as one of the best in the game. I disagree. He’s just average for a pro. In other words, he’s overrated.

  • http://mcfrank.blogspot.com Chris Arabia

    oops. sorry, chase. all i meant was that when you strip away the nuance, this whole issue evolved from the original idea in some quarters that blacks lacked the smarts to be effective qbs.

    without that, this kind of thing wouldnt be debated, and a good qb would just be a good qb.

    i think there is a perception of mcnabb, especially pre-vick, that he can pass AND run, whereas the steretype was more run less pass.

    vick is sick. what a ridiculous confluence of footballitude. he’s much more total package than lex luger ever was.

    in any event, this has been an interesting discussion.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    I am all for the “a good-QB is a good QB” argument, and I’d say McNabb is a very good one. In the Kaufman pice I cited before, he’s got some statistical analysis that has McNabb rated WAY above Vick. I’m not convinced of that, (football stats are unreliable indicators) but I’d say in toto McNabb IS one of the best QBs.

    Vick is far more talented, as you say. But talent isn;t everything.

  • http://conservativecrust.com Chase

    I’ll gladly jump on the Vick bandwagon. He’s insane. But a note to football gamblers: Do not put money down on a team before the season. Though the odds are better, the whole team (i.e., Vick) could get injured and not even make the playoffs . . . and then you know what creek you’re up.

  • Thomas

    I think Kordell Stewart pretty much refutes Rush’s theory. He’s black, yet NOBODY in the media thinks he’s any good.

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that Rush is right–that Donovan McNabb gets a free ride from the media because he’s black. That would only be because he is a black man succeeding at a position that has historically been played by white men. I think it’s just an example, then, of the sports media rooting for the underdog, which they typically do. I mean, why do the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox get so much love from the national sports media? Because they haven’t won in so long. There’s nothing nefarious going on here.

    Anyone who agrees with Rush must also concede that there are a lot of white players in the NBA who get a great deal of attention from the media (way more than they deserve, based on their skills) yet I don’t hear Rush or anyone else complaining about that.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    From ESPN.com:

    In the wake of his controversial statements regarding Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his position on ESPN’s NFL pregame show. ESPN has accepted the resignation.

    Limbaugh issued a statement late Wednesday night in which he wrote:

    “My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret.

    “I love NFL Sunday Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it.

    “Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen.”

    George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports, issued the following response:

    “We accept his resignation and regret the circumstances surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously.”

  • http://masshole.blogspot.com Dave

    Drudge is running a teaser about a story that’s about to break concerning Limbaugh being hit by a drug sting operation.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    The story isn’t online, but here is the cover.

    It isn’t Rush’s day.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    And here is the Daily News story.

    If he does his show today, it should be interesting.

  • Eric Olsen

    Hmm, seems a bit hypocritical of old Rush. of course it’s always easier to tell other people what to do than to do it yourself.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    I am ticked off that he resigned. I really wanted to see what was going to happen on the show this weekend. If, as I suspect, ESPN asked him to step down, they are stupid because they erased ratings that they would have certainly attracted.

    The prescription drug thing could end his career. He has spoken on many occasions about how drug abusers are a drain on society, etc. Can a man recover from something this hypocritical?

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Philadelphia Inquirer writer Stephen A. Smith notes:

    “If there was any truth to Limbaugh’s idiotic assertion that the present-day media are pushing for a black quarterback to be successful, coach Bill Cowher would not have been able to push Kordell Stewart out of Pittsburgh. Aaron Brooks would be a star in New Orleans, Jeff Blake would be something other than an NFL vagabond, and there would be no need to mention Randy Moss every time Daunte Culpepper takes a deep breath.

    McNabb is a three-time Pro Bowler. The man who once registered 74 percent of the Eagles’ offensive production, who’s visited the last two NFC championship games, was “the next great quarterback before Michael Vick came along.

    McNabb’s credentials need no validation. And neither does the integrity of those who have covered McNabb.”

    My thought: Why can’t a quarterback just be a quarterback?

    Yeah, Pollyannaish. I know.

  • Alex

    I know the McNabb contrversy is now dwarfed by the drug sting, but can anyone tell me why his statement was “racist” and “hateful” as it has been described elsewhere?

    Posters here have done a great job explaining why Rush was wrong (and I mostly agree), but I think race relations are not helped when people get away with characterizing as racist any statement even indirectly critical of a black person. In this case, it’s not even critical of McNabb, just the people (I’m assuming mostly white) who write about him.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    In truth, this situation went both ways. People called Rush racist — I don’t know if he is or isn’t — and Rush called the sports media racist. I would agree that criticizing someone who is melanin enhanced isn’t necessarily racist; it depeneds on the particular statement.

  • Alex

    Exactly – Rush was accusing the sports media of “reverse racism” (also known as “racism”) in puffing up McNabb’s contibution to the Eagles. This seems to be pretty clearly wrong. McNabb may be a little overrated (he did miss half of last season and the Eagles didn’t miss a beat with their second or third string QB’s), but that is likely due to the over emphasis on the QB position in general, which can be the President of the football team (too much credit when things are going well, too much blame when they are not).

    So is accusing racism the new standard for “out of bounds” in a debate? Al Sharpton (who has demanded ESPN fire Rush) better be careful what he wishes for.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    I’ll take Brett Favre as QB.

  • Alex

    He would be the guy to help Rush kick the painkillers.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Nightline is doing Rush & race tonight.

    Rush didn’t do his show because he was giving the keynote this morning at the NAB Radio con in Philly (though he didn’t bother to show up at the 2000 Radio NAB in San Franciso where he won a Marconi Award.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    He probably got paid for doing the keynote. I listened to some of his address (what I heard didn’t cover the scandals; that came later), but he made some great points re: the broadcasting industry and the travesty of experienced broadcasters not getting their due in favor of young, non-trained (read: less expensive) voices.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    The Miami Herald has a brief story confirming there is an investigation:

    Authorities in Palm Beach County are investigating a former housekeeper’s claim that radio talk personality Rush Limbaugh purchased thousands of highly addictive painkillers through the black market, law enforcement sources confirmed…

    Sources said the investigation is connected to a bust that closed a Lake
    Worth pharmacy in May. World Health Association is accused of illegally
    supplying customers more than 450,000 Hydrocode tablets, a potent and addictive drug similar to OxyContin.

    And this is a press release about the bust of Health Association.

  • Dan

    Rush is totally right. I find it offensive that the liberal media constantly insists that white=racist. As if owners and coaches would deliberately not field the best team possible in order to keep blacks down. Give me a break. This dogma won’t hunt. If Tommy Maddox or Kurt Warner, who both came out of obscurity to become stars in the NFL, were black, this would be proof positive for the absurd liberal media that blacks are never groomed for the position and have to be twice as good…blah, blah, blah.

    I personally think Mcnabb is good, a lot inconsistent and not great, but good. Vick is very talented and is potentially great, but not yet. I think instead of him re-defining the position, a few blind side hits and the position will re-define his style of play. I don’t know what racial classification Steve McNair claims for himself, but I consider him to be a great QB right now. His first instinct is to stay in the pocket and pass. He only scrambles when the game is on the line. Which makes his scrambling ability that much more dangerous.

    It’s refreshing when there is openess in discussions of race relations, and repugnent and disgusting when P.C. fascist liberals shut it down.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Please spare us the “P.C. fascist liberals.” Go back and do some research on the origins of the term PC and how the right has twisted it.

    The intensity of the reaction dowesn’t spring out of a vacuum. It is largely because of Limbaugh’s past statements and also because ESPN was stupid enough to hire him in the first place. It also takes place when there is a continuing failure to hire blacks and latinos for coaching and management positions.

    Some of the criticisms of Rush outlined in a column published when he was being considered for MNF.

    This isn’t censorship or a first amendment issue as Rush and some of his defenders have claimed. Rush still can talk about race, football, and the “liberal media” 3 hours a day, five days a week plus on his website, in his newsletter, and in books if he ever bothers to have someone ghost write another one for him.

  • http://www.tradermike.net/movethecrowd/ Michael

    Natalie said: My thought: Why can’t a quarterback just be a quarterback?

    Because we live in the USA where everything becomes a racial issue. Give it another 400 years or so to die down. :-)

  • http://www.temptationwaits.com visualsimplicity

    Awe man, I wish I heard your suggestion about gambling, Chase, prior to me putting money down on New Orleans.

  • Alex

    I think Rush was on the right track in general concerning the PC sports media (I haven’t done any research, but I believe PC was originally used approvingly by the left to define and describe “correct” political positions – it later evolved to describe a intolerant, hypersensitive dogma). However, the “black QB” issue in general and McNabb in particular are the last place to look to illustrate it.

    The coverage of the ridiculous Matt Millen fine (or more accurately, the ridiculous NFL rule that led to the fine) would have been a much better example. Or the fact that people on ESPN are forced to pretend to care about the WNBA. I also think the forced celebration of the “groundbreaking” efforts of Annika and Suzi Whaley illustrate this trend.

    However, the issue of black QB’s is the probably the clearest modern success story of sports and race. We went from blatant ugly stereotype (“blacks aren’t smart enough to handle QB”) to scattered oddity with the stereotype lingering in the background (Doug Williams, Vince Evans) to a point of complete acceptance where it isn’t even worth discussing anymore. We now have black QB’s that run the gamut from superstar to journeyman to bum.

    Rush’s statement wasn’t racist, it was simply wrong. And they don’t pressure Chris Berman to resign when “The Swam” goes 0-4 for the week.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    In the category of you don’t need friends like these, John Rocker is now defending Rush:

    “All I will say, is people need stop being so sensitive,” Rocker said while
    appearing on Sporting News Radio’s Peter Brown Show. “(Rush) wasn’t trying
    to physically hurt or mentally hurt Donovan McNabb. I mean, he just wasn’t
    doing it. I know Donovan is probably a little upset by it, but that
    certainly wasn’t (Rush’s) his intent. He has been a journalist and newsman
    long enough to know better than to intentionally, blatantly make a comment
    like that to intentionally offend somebody.”

    I guess Rocker doesn’t realize that Rush has never been a journalist or newsman and that if he had tried to hurt McNabb, he would have gotten the shit beaten out of him.

    Drudge also said that Bush also defended Rush (who vainly campaigned for his daddy in 92 after basically endorsing Pat Buchanan and got rewarded with a stay in the Lincoln bedroom):

    President Bush expressed support of radio star Rush Limbaugh in conversations with top staff on Thursday, a senior administration source told the DRUDGE REPORT.

    “Rush is a great American,” the president said of the beleaguered host, who has championed the conservative movement for decades. “I am confident he can overcome any obstacles he faces right now.”

    Drudge also says that the Enquirer may put audio of the tapes of Rush talking about wanting drugs online and he’ll be doing his radio show Friday.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Interesting viewpoint from Slate’s Allen Barra, who cops to an affirmative-action mentality when it comes to football.