Race and Positions in the NFL

Anyone who watches a few minutes of an NFL game on Sunday can give you a pretty accurate description of what color skin each position group primarily consists of.  The Quarterback position is dominated by white faces, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the first names that come to mind.  The QB is the man in charge of the team, a natural leader, hard working, and extremely smart.  The skill positions (corner back, wide reciever, running back, and safety) are mainly African American athletes.  My question is why, or how did this come to be?

1.  Stereotypes.  Every time of year when it comes around to draft day in the NFL, players are analyzed in every aspect of their life, to determine whether or not they can be a successful player in the league.  White QB’s are hardly ever questioned in their decision making skills, or abilities to read a defense.  On the other hand, black quarterbacks are analyzed through a more cynical light.  Black QB’s are perceived as having shaky potential to succeed in the league because they may not be able to handle the sophisticated NFL offenses, and are often viewed as relying on their speed to get them out of trouble.  Most people fail to realize that they way we look at athletes is directly related to racial stereotypes.

2.  Lack of role models.  Children who are aspiring athletes look to professional athletes for inspiration.  As a kid I emulated many different athletes trying to make my play style and technique the same as theirs.  When a child turns on their tv and watches the highlights of an NFL Sunday on Sportscenter their gonna see that almost every QB is white, and that becomes the norm.  Most kids will go with the norm, and when they sign up to play football, the black kids will want to be like Adrian Peterson, and the white kids are gonna want to be like Peyton Manning.

3.  Coaching  Becoming a QB involves a lot of training, which costs alot of time and money.  The majority of NFL QB’s received numerous hours of special one on one coaching with expensive Quarterback coaches.  This is a major factor in how a athlete develops his skill set as a QB.  A player who receives this extra coaching, at a cost, is much better off and has a huge advantadge over the kid who receives the normal coaching.   Access to the best coaching is limited, and only those with the means can obtain that level of coaching.

However in more recent times we are beginning to see a slight breaking of this trend.  Black QB’s are being used in different personal packages, and players like Josh Freeman, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell, and Vince Young are making big plays in the NFL this season.  Now when I see a white safety making a big hit, I am a little bit less surprised then I would have 10 years ago.