In his Luke’s Gospel column in the Miami New Timesformer 2 Live Crew front man, music mogul and passionate sports fan Luther Campbell brings up the point that black quarterbacks in the NFL do not have many positive role models.
Here is an excerpt.
(Doug) Williams is the only black QB to win an NFL championship, but you don’t see or hear Michael Vick, Vince Young, and Donovan McNabb saying they want to be like the guy who passed for five touchdowns in the second quarter, a Super Bowl record. They don’t even aspire to be like Warren Moon, the former record breaker for the Houston Oilers who is enshrined in the football hall of fame in Canada and the United States.
He goes on to say.
The NFL’s three most prominent black quarterbacks would have won a Super Bowl by now if the franchises they play for allowed them to use their speed and quickness that made them superstars in little league, high school, and college.
Instead, Vick, Young, and McNabb became complacent, allowing team owners, general managers, and coaches to tell them how they play the game — by dropping back in the pocket like the “prototype” quarterback.
I spoke with former NFL Quarterback Shaun King of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who told me he thinks that a lot of this discussion comes from the fact that Tim Tebow has had the Denver offense formed around his skill set while a guy like Cam Newton, under the offense of Rob Chudzinski, has rendered the whole point moot.
I think Campbell’s argument is flawed on several counts. It seems like he is painting the picture that front offices want to change athletic black quarterbacks into the “prototype” quarterback because they are black and white quarterbacks have more success.
The fact is, football is a sport where coaches are ingrained with the philosophies of their previous bosses. Coaching Trees’ roots run deep and it takes a forward thinker to branch off into their own. It takes time for the NFL to adapt and move on because people like to do things the way the generation before them did it.
When Tony Sparano first got his head coaching gig with the Miami Dolphins, he would go for it on 4th down at midfield and the team unveiled the revolutionary Wildcat package which teams were quick to copy. But after one season he reverted back to the conservative field position, settle for field goals grind it out style he learned at the feet of Bill Parcells.
So when a young black quarterback (especially a mobile one) is drafted to the NFL, the perception is that they try to change him, when I would argue that the three quarterbacks he mentioned were given the opportunity to be themselves and were successful with their playing style.
Vick, McNabb and Vince Young, along with Randall Cunningham and Kordell Stewart and the late Steve McNair before them were all given the chance to use their athleticism to bring a different dimension to their offenses. Eventually, all those quarterback adapted their games to become more traditional drop back passers.
I think Campbell is missing the fact that those quarterbacks didn’t change to conform to an ideal, they changed to preserve their careers. Like with the Wildcat, defenses in the NFL adapt quickly and that style of play ends up getting quarterbacks hurt.
The funny thing is, the best example of a rushing quarterback who had success by changing his style and lengthened his career is one of the white quarterbacks he mentions in his article, Steve Young.
Young was as much of a scrambling quarterback as any of the guys he mentioned and when he adapted his style he moved into an upper echelon. It is also important to note that he retired because of concussions that were no doubt thanks to his running style of play.
Another point that he goes on to make is that he hopes Cam Newton can become the type of role model Michael Vick never had and serve as a shining example for a guy like Robert Griffin III.
Cam Newton a role model? The guy who threw a stolen laptop out of a window and whose National Championship and Heisman winning senior season was shrouded in controversy about alleged payments to his dad to get him to transfer to Auburn. RG3 should aspire to be as successful as Newton on the field, but off? Not so fast. Let’s not make one great season with no off field problems into an application for sainthood.
I think Campbell is not clear on what young black quarterbacks should look up to. When he claims Michael Vick didn’t have a role model, I think he means that he doesn’t have many successful black peers with which to compare his accomplishments.
Using RG3 as an example, I have questions for Uncle Luke.
Why should he limit himself to only seeking out black role models and why does that role model have to be a successful superstar?
Saying that RG3 should look up to Cam Newton is like people who compare Dirk Nowitzki’s game to Larry Bird.
Does he really think Michael Vick would have not gone to jail for dog fighting if he had Cam Newton to look up to? It is obvious Vick needed role models in other aspects of his life.
As for Tebow, he has been given the opportunity to run his own style, but with some fans already turning on him, it is obvious that they will need to convert HIM to a traditional drop back passer.
If Campbell applied this logic to his area of expertise, Eminem would have had to use Vanilla Ice as a role model instead of Dre.