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.