Numbers Don’t Lie

It would be nice if more people would argue about what Rush actually said like Allen Barra instead of arguing about what they think he said, or what they think he wanted to say but didn’t.

McNabb, he said, is “overrated … what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.”

“There’s a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”

There are three points there: that the NFL wants black quarterbacks to do well, that McNabb is overrated, and that the defense has carried McNabb.

McNabb has started for the Eagles since the 2000 season. In that time, the Eagles offense has never ranked higher than 10th in the league in yards gained. In fact, their 10th-place rank in 2002 was easily their best; in their two previous seasons, they were 17th in a 32-team league. They rank 31st so far in 2003.

In contrast, the Eagles defense in those four seasons has never ranked lower than 10th in yards allowed. In 2001, they were seventh; in 2002 they were fourth; this year they’re fifth. It shouldn’t take a football Einstein to see that the Eagles’ strength over the past few seasons has been on defense, and Limbaugh is no football Einstein, which is probably why he spotted it.

That’s 2 and 3 down. Let’s take a look at 1.

In terms of performance, many NFL quarterbacks should be ranked ahead of McNabb. But McNabb has represented something special to all of us since he started his first game in the NFL, and we all know what that is.

Limbaugh is being excoriated for making race an issue in the NFL. This is hypocrisy. I don’t know of a football writer who didn’t regard the dearth of black NFL quarterbacks as one of the most important issues in the late ’80s and early ’90s. (The topic really caught fire after 1988, when Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.)

So far, no black quarterback has been able to dominate a league in which the majority of the players are black. To pretend that many of us didn’t want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he’s black is absurd. To say that we shouldn’t root for a quarterback to win because he’s black is every bit as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn’t have rooted for Jackie Robinson to succeed because he was black. (Please, I don’t need to be reminded that McNabb’s situation is not so difficult or important as Robinson’s—I’m talking about a principle.)

Remember also that this is an NFL that has thrown shit-fits about owners not interviewing black coaches for hiring, and not filling quotas in the front office. Race matters to the NFL.

Rush Limbaugh didn’t say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn’t say anything that he shouldn’t have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself. I mean, if they didn’t hire Rush Limbaugh to say things like this, what they did they hire him for? To talk about the prevent defense?

I don’t know football, but I know the entertainment industry, and I know how to parse a sentence, and this is how I see it also.

(Via Harvey)

Comments are closed.