Douglas Andrews / April 30, 2021

ESPN’s Woke Supremacists

Two of the network’s personalities are crying racism about the NFL’s pre-draft assessment of a particular quarterback.

There’s an old axiom that says when you’ve hit rock-bottom, you stop digging. Clearly, though, ESPN doesn’t do axioms. Otherwise, it wouldn’t keep doing the same things that caused it to log the lowest ratings in its 41-year history last year.

As Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis opined last June, “The network, which has become more left wing than MSNBC and CNN combined over the past several weeks, has completely abandoned sports coverage. The result? Viewers, many of whom were willing to watch the channel even during a pandemic disaster with limited sports to consume, have abandoned it in droves.”

Just how drovesy was the abandonment? Well, the network’s most popular studio show, “First Take,” was getting out-drawn by the likes of “Ant Anstead Master Mechanic” on Motor Trend TV.

It’s against this dismal backdrop, then, that Martenzie Johnson, who writes for ESPN’s The Undefeated, decided he’d give the football world something to talk about just prior to this year’s NFL Draft. “When it comes to Black quarterbacks in particular,” he writes, “the NFL has long gone out of its way to keep the position as white as the painted yard lines on the field.”

Rubbish, we say, given that the league’s four highest-paid players are — you guessed it — black quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson. And this in a league that features a couple of reasonably successful QBs of pallor: seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and three-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers.

As Johnson continues, “Quarterbacks are expected to be smart, rational decision-makers who command a team and act as the de facto coach on the field.” And here he’s right. That’s pretty much the job description for an NFL QB.

But then Johnson goes off the rails again: “Accuracy and strong arms are a plus, but it mostly comes down to what’s between your ears rather than any other physical attribute. As the authors of The Bell Curve would have you believe, few Black men possess those attributes.”

Setting aside the smear of Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, Johnson clearly never saw Warren Moon move a team up and down the field. But how has he missed the magnificent Wilson and the electric Mahomes?

Sadly, that’s the thing about ESPN these days: Every story pushes the narrative. And the narrative, in this case, is white racism. Or, as Joe Biden likes to call it, “Jim Crow on steroids.”

Max Kellerman of the aforementioned “First Take” show also pushed the racism angle in covering the draft. “My antenna are up when I notice [quarterbacks] one, two, and three this year,” he says. “White, guy, white guy, white guy.”

Here again we’d direct Kellerman to the league’s highest-paid QBs: Black guy, black guy, black guy, black guy.

As for Johnson, he seems to have an irrational beef with the way Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’s stock has slipped in recent weeks. “We can leave the draft evaluating to the experts,” he whines, “but with zero explanation, two white quarterbacks with comparable or lesser resumes than Fields were suddenly can’t-miss picks. Whether that is true is irrelevant; it’s more about what happened to Fields since he declared for the draft that exposes the draft process — and the entire football-industrial complex — for the, let’s say, racial institution that it is.”

Fields will be a first-round draft pick, and likely a top-10 pick. But that’s not good enough for Johnson, who just can’t get those two pale-faced QBs out of his head.

Here we’d note that The Greatest Quarterback of All Time, Tom Brady, was selected 199th in the 2000 NFL draft. One hundred ninety-ninth. And there were six QBs picked before him, two of them black. Ever heard of Tee Martin? How about Spergon Wynn? Didn’t think so. And we don’t remember anyone screaming REVERSE RACISM when Brady kept slipping down the board.

Suffice it to say that picking a good pro quarterback is an inexact science. But to suggest that NFL GMs are looking at the color of Justin Fields’s skin rather than the entirety of his abilities is laughable. Breitbart’s Dylan Gwinn provides a helpful history lesson. “In 2011,” he writes, “NFL evaluators looked past a serious ‘pay-to-play’ accusation involving Cam Newton and drafted him #1 overall. In 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles welcomed federal felon and convicted dog killer Michael Vick back to the league and eventually made him their starting quarterback. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers overlooked serious rape allegations to draft Jameis Winston #1 overall.”

To be sure, black quarterbacks haven’t always had an easy road in the NFL. Far from it. But those days are long gone, and the ranks of black QBs have never been richer — despite what woke supremacists like Johnson and Kellerman would have us believe.

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