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My Thoughts on Donovan McNabb’s Accusations September 19, 2007

Posted by Marquis Chapman in Football, NFL, Sports.

There’s not that many African-American quarterbacks, so we have to do a little bit extra.  Because the percentage of us playing this position, which people didn’t want us to play … is low, so we do a little extra.

These are the words spoken by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in an interview with Jim Brown, on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” 

McNabb goes on to tell Jim Brown that players like Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning are not criticized as much as he is, and states that even if he passes for 300 yards and the team wins by seven, he is still going to face some type of criticism.

I’ve already heard many opinions on McNabb’s accusations, and most discredit everything McNabb said. Let me start off by saying that I think there is a lot of truth to McNabb’s comments. Every fan is on the outside looking in, but I think McNabb is referring to personal things he may have encountered as a player during his 9 years in the NFL.  I don’t think the racism or criticism he talked about is something we fans would see.  What McNabb is talking about  may possibly be the racism and criticism within the orginization, the city, or the NFL.  Due to frustration, he made it seem  like every black quarterback faces racism, but in my opinion he meant it  on a more personal level.

One of the reasons many people are discrediting McNabb’s statements is that he is playing in one of the toughest cities in the world.  Philadelphia is notorious for having a love, hate relationship with their athletes and teams. When a player is playing bad or the team is losing, the fans turn in an instant. Many fans are probably thinking that he faces more criticism than any other  player because he has some of the harshest fans in America.

Also, I think the timing of the accusations are causing people to think the accusations are false.  One can argue that McNabb is probably frustrated due to his poor play and lack of team success the past couple of seasons.  For McNabb to come out with these accusations during a frustrating point in his career automatically causes fans to wonder if the accusations are just, or if he is just an extremely frustrated player using the race card to take the heat off of him.

Donovan McNabb has been one of the classiest guys in the NFL, and I highly doubt that he would simply make this up due to frustration.  I believe everything he said has some truth to it.  My only issue is that McNabb has had so many opportunites to speak the truth, but stayed away from the issue.  He should have spoken up immediately, even if the team was having sucess, and not wait when he is at a low point in his career.

It’s important to note, as fans, we are still somewhat kept in the dark about what goes on with players and the many things they have to deal with everyday.  If a player with as much class as Donovan McNabb speaks out with these types of accusations, it would only be right to give him the benefit of the doubt and support the man, instead of immediately discrediting everything he’s said.


1. KnowitAll - September 19, 2007

i am thoroughly dissapointed in Mcnabb’s comments about racism in the NFL. I do agree, however, with you Marquis when you say that we as fans are kept in the dark about certain situations. And i think that this might be one of these times, maybe it has something to do with racism he faces with the eagles organization or just with some of the upper management personell. I also agree that he does play in one of the, if not THE toughest cities to play for in all of professional sports. Fans there are simply ruthless, so why give them something else to ride you about? I am not completely ignorant and I will not sit here and say that “racism is dead” or that racism has been totally eliminated in pro sports, but Mr. Mcnabb’s comments were totally unwarranted.
It is comments such as his which gives the topic of racism the “edge” or “sting” it still has today. Donovan Mcnabb saying that black and white quarterbacks are judged differently, and that black qb’s must do more to stay on par, are exactly the type of statements that continue to ’empower’ racism. Now, I am not black, therefore I cannot say that I know what it means to go through life with the certain stereotypes that they face, but unless you can absolutely prove the claims you make (especially when it comes to racial issues) there is no need for them to be said. I could go on and on about this subject, but for now I will end it like that.
All I am really saying, is that from Donovan, I expected more.

2. Amber - September 19, 2007

The article I referenced in my post on this subject shed some light on McNabb is the first couple of years of his NFL career.

He came in with a chip on his shoulder. It just seems like he’s gotten it back.

Personal or professional level, it shouldn’t matter. No one is purposely setting the bar for black quarterbacks to fail – it’s on THEM whether or not they succeed in this league. It just sounds as though he is trying to find anyone else to place the blame on. Except himself.

3. Mr. Insider - September 19, 2007

I have several thoughts here.

1.) McNabb is a superior man with solid family upbringing, good values and has been a class act, far as I know, his whole life. So he is not some crybaby thug as many in the National Thug League are.

2.) Racism flat out exists in many areas of our society. Maybe less in professional sports because blacks so dominate many aspects of pro sports that it would be high profile and obvious. (As when Al Campanis, Jimmy the Greek and others with some clear racist feelings in their makeup misspoke publicly.)

3.) Some high profile black athletes, entertainers and others certainly play ‘the race card’ when it is to their advantage. So do whites when arguing against too many Asians enrolled in Berkeley. So do all sub-cultures in every society. It is wrong, but common. Others DO NOT use ‘the race card’ unless it is to truly prove a point that can make a positive difference.

4.) So, what to make of Mr. McNabb? He probably expressed those feelings for these reasons:
A.) Philly is a notoriously racist city.
B.) The Philly Fanatic and fans are crazy and nasty.
C.) It is a place where Santa Claus was boo’ed, for cryin; out loud!
D.) He has gone downhill over past two seasons due to injuries, age, wear and tear, et al.
E.) He has run into racism along the way in the NFL and/or life.
F.) He forgot to ear his Campbell’s Chicken Soup yesterday!
G.) He is frustrated and angry.
H.) He feels some inequality in treatment of athletes occurs.
I.) He is FEELING SORRY FOR HIMSELF. I would, too, if I let A-H direct my thoughts.

Don’t know him except thru media. I bet he wished he had just shut up and moved on instead of making those comments at this specific time when his motives and judgement will rightly be questioned.

I am a white guy (61) who hates all forms of racism, religious hatred, and the like. If I disagree with Donovan, that does not make one automagically racist. Look back at the list above. There is more here than racism driving Donovan’s comments.

Nonetheless, I feel bad for him. I also flat out do not believe fans want any high profile quarterback to fail their team. A 3rd string scrub who blows a game is toast, but not a man like McNabb.

It will be fascinating to see what the dialogue becomes about Donovan’s comments. Hey, take a poll here Mr. Alltalksports. Ask if you believe McNabb’s comments reflect a racist reality in the NFL or if they more represent the list above I wrote.

A fine man with a loose lip? Or a courageous and frustrated man trying to state a clear reality about the NFL? You choose.

4. Sportsattitude - September 20, 2007

I am a white guy (49) who finds a lot to agree on with what was written by Mr. Insider. As a Philadelphia native and sports fan, I as well posted something on Donovan’s comments in my blog (Sportsattitude). Some thoughts…I agree McNabb has for the most part been classy and professional throughout his career…I do not agree with the comment Philly is a notoriously racist city anymore so than anywhere else you can name – I spent eight months in Memphis and saw more racism there than I have in forty-plus years combined in Philly…I am also betting if you asked McNabb that question directly he’d say his experience here has been way more positive than his upbringing in the Midwest…I see his press conferences every day and know him no better than anyone else watching him on TV, but there is no doubt his timing when he chooses to express his opinions are poor, showing little regard for his teammates or the organization that has paid him millions…I see him as frustrated his skills are eroding, he can’t do what he once could, his legacy is getting away from him…and this was all crystalized when the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb this April as the QB of the future. He is facing his own sports mortality.

5. Marquis Chapman - September 20, 2007

Thanks for your thoughts Sportsattitude. I was looking forward to hearing the opinions of someone who is from Philadelphia. I don’t think Philly is more racist than other city, but there fans are cruel. I agree with the poor timing. He shouldn’t have waited when he’s having a poor year to come out with these accusations, because it immediately causes backlash.

6. Young Kristoff - September 20, 2007

Well at first it was really hard to take a side until i was watching espn this morning and saw comments made by Jason Campbell and Vince Young. I think that black QB have to put the same amount of effort in the NFL. Everyone has equal oppurtunity because in the NFL, wins is all that matters. Everyone is equal when you are producing wins. I think that maybe in college QB’s that are black have to do more because there are so many other Qb’s that overshadow them, but in the NFL it is different. Cambell stated that he does not side with McNabb because once in the NFL he did not put in a little extra, the same went for Vince Young. I feel that McNabb is just fueling the fire with the race card. I feel that he is just frustrated because of all the heat he is taking. Also i feel that he is feeling teh frustration of his knee. He is beginning to understand that he is unable to do certain things at this moment. I just feel that pulling the race card is something he should have not pulled and just be a leader and help build some confidence in his team.

7. Marquis Chapman - September 20, 2007

McNabb has been in the league for nine years, which is way longer than Young and Campbell. I think the McNabb situation is on a more personal level. I don’t think he meant to come across that every black QB has faced racism or unfair criticism. Campbell and Young have only been in the league a few years and haven’t faced any type of major adversity yet. As classy as McNabb has been, you don’t think there is any truth to what he was saying?

8. Chase King - September 20, 2007

I feel that black Qurterbacks are talked about more than White ones. I feel that due to past events where black players only played defense or ran the ball, harsh judgements are made on them now. I often hear a commentator saying negative things about them. Maybe it seems more because there is a lack of starting black quarterbacks. I feel that they are a little more but I dont think it was to the point that Mcnabb was talking about. I feel like if Peyton Manning or Brett Favre was caught for the dog fighting they wouldnt have been as scrutinized as Mike Vick. I feel like race still does have firm grasp on sports as a whole. Its a more secretive type now.Ever wonder why there are no black owners, commisioners are never black. THats just life.

9. Mr. Insider - September 21, 2007

Lots of good quality chat here. Couple new or changed thoughts I have:

1.) There are other cities as racist as Philly. Love Philly, but it has that ‘edge’ to it. But ‘Oh Those Fans’!

2.) I am giving McNabb the benefit of the doubt on his possibly dumb comments. I want to see and hear more before forming my final view on this media spread kerfuffle. Let’s see how it plays out.

3.) Re: Vick, I believe 100% that his race is not a significant factor in his ‘don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’ situation. As a sports guy, I have the opportunity to talk to athletes of all races and many nationalities. 100% of the black and white athletes have told me that they are ashamed of what Vick did for sports leaders and public figures. NONE feel he is getting any treatment a white athlete would not get for the same inhumane crimes Vick admitted to. A few feel it is not fair to see him lose the $150,000,000 he will definitely lose for his cruelty, egotism and just plain dumb*&%! behavior. But they feel any white guy who was stupid enought to do what Vick did would be treated similarly. Does not make it true, but it is my interesting little ‘marketing sample’, and is from athletes and sporting industry people only.
4.) As a general philosophical comment about current American society, there is NO DOUBT that a good deal of white on black racism exists. Also Protestant on Catholic, black on hispanic, everyone of Asian, Muslim on Jew, Christian Fundamentalist on the other 80% of the population for something or other, etc. It exists everwhere in the world. Terrible black on white racism in Zimbabwe, brutal Muslim on Christian in Darfur, brutal Chinese Gov’t on Chinese Christian in China, murderous Muslim on Hindu and Hindu on Muslim in India, frightening Catholic on Serbian Orthodox Christian on Muslim in what used to be Yugoslavia, slavery of blacks by Arabs going on actively around the Horn of Africa, etc. etc. So when we do raise the “Race Flag”, there is plenty to go around. It is usually majority against a minority population, but not always (Iraq and Yugoslavia as dead on examples). So what is my point? Just to be very cautious when raising the Flag that it does not let you emotionally justify negative thinking and actions out of proportion to any single event.
A claim of racism can be a helpful excuse for one to explain why things are not going better for them. Racism exists. I just do not thing the McNabb deal is a great example of it running rampant in the NFL.

OK, maybe racism is more secretive now. Probably very true. But, that does not mean that the ‘Race Flag’ needs to be raised as an excuse for everytime a black or white or brown athlete gets an unfair shake. In sports I have seem plenty of fine guys get an UNFAIR shake due to other factors than race. As for NFL ownership, I do not believe for a second that a financially qualified black man could not make ‘an offer that could not be denied’ to a current NFL owner who wanted to sell, and that would see our first black NFL owner. Hope it happens soon and several times. Hey, write a letter to Gene Upshaw and to Roger Goodell (seriously) with the same tough questions raised above.

Well, we ‘ain’t’ as bad as they say we are and we ‘ain’t’ as good as we should be. That is my view.

10. FemaleFan - September 21, 2007

As I read this post, I think back to the days of Doug Williams. Doug Williams was the starting QB at Grambling State University in Louisiana who went on to be the starting QB for the Tampa Bay Bucks. The Bucks were not a good team when he arrived. He went on to have a great career which included a super bowl victory for the Redskins. Williams stayed under the microscope from the time he left Grambling to the time he left the NFL. There was never a commentator when referencing Williams who did not mention his skin color. Why? Because of the obvious – he was an African American in a position held by few African Americans, if any at that time. I honestly believe that this reference back then was innocent by some accounts. When constantly asked that stupid question, “how does it feel to be the first “black” starting QB to win a super bowl”, Williams did not play into the reporters attempts to, intentional or otherwise, provoke him into venting or speaking out on the pressures or racism that may have existed at that time for an African American QB in the NFL. You can best believe that back in his day there was definitely more pressure and possibly more racism. Now, combined that with his share of bad games and some injuries. He could have conveniently used the pressures and issue of race to dodge some scrutiny. Williams simply responded as a QB in the NFL although I’m sure that as an African American he was proud. The point in making this comparison is that I think there was definitely more truth to that statement back in the day of Doug Williams. If Williams would have made this comment, there would have been no questioning it. Williams just chose not to bring up the issue while McNabb felt the need, for reasons only he knows, to do so. Williams conducted himself with class just as McNabb does. You are correct when you state that fans are not aware of what goes on in the front office, or for that matter on the field, in the locker room or at press conferences outside of public view which may have warranted his comments. Although African Americans now play a more dominate role in most sports, we can’t dismiss the basis for McNabb’s comment completely. I just wish he would have voiced them before his career stats began to decline, before his knee problems, before his possible replacement signed on or even after his career in the NFL is done. Maybe it would have left less room for controversy. When we get the point where we can simply ask African Americans, “what does it feel like to be a QB in the NFL?” PERIOD, maybe when asked in the heat of passion or in frustration they won’t feel compelled to reference their ethnicity in their responses, thus opening the contents of the can to be blown out of proportion or misinterpreted. That would be a start to putting race in background or eliminating it. Some believe that the comment has no merit. Some believe that the comment has merit. But there will always be those who downplay the comment by saying, “here we go again with the race card cop out.”

11. D.C. - September 21, 2007

I think McNabb was trying to say that he feels African Americans have to give extra because they are the minority in a position held by a majority. It just happens that this minority and majority involves black and white. Any other feelings behind this comment may be the result of something we (fans) may not be aware of. I hope he realizes that this should be a non issue now due to the increase in the number of African American QB’s in the NFL. I think it was more frustration talking than anything else.

12. Sentimental - September 21, 2007

There is nothing wrong with giving a “little extra” to be the best at what you do. Just don’t blame anyone else or create controversy we don’t need if you don’t get there.

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