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Jason Campbell refuses to be baited

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Once upon a time Donovan McNabb of Eagles fame told Bryant Gumble that:

African-American quarterbacks such as himself face added pressure because there are fewer black QBs -- and because some still don't want black athletes playing the position.

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

Which may or may not be true. I don't think it's true. I follow football pretty closely and, if I recall correctly, Donovan McNabb was held in pretty high esteem among quarterbacks in the offseason -- actually every offseason. When he struggles, as he has on occasion, he is predictably criticized. When he succeeds, he gets credited.

I think he was wrong on the substance of his claim, but I also think it's a pretty foolish thing to say, period. You aren't doing yourself any favors by playing the race card either among fans or among the media you apparently care enough about to demand good treatment from. Nobody likes being told that they're wrong in their analysis (and I'm wrong in my analysis nearly all the time, so I can testify to that) especially with the added criticism that they're wrong because they are evil bigots! I am not an evil bigot. But then again, I don't think McNabb is a bad quarterback.

Back to the point, none of these people who you think aren't giving you your credit are suddenly going to respond positively to you calling them racists, especially since they already had questions about your on-field performance to begin with. Speaking of which, your on-field performance talks a much bigger talk than anything you say to Bryant Gumble on HBO. You go out there and play great football, win football games, and it doesn't matter if you are purple in the minds of most fans. You go out there and accomplish a passer rating that ranks below Chad Pennington, a white quarterback seconds away from losing his job by the way, and you'll probably be treated as though you're about as good as Chad Pennington. Unless you're Donovan McNabb; I have yet to hear anyone accuse Pennington of being a better quarterback. But there it is: Chad completes more of his passes, has an identical YPA, and has more touchdowns. Ok, so the Eagles are 2-4 and the Jets are 1-6, but 2-4 ain't stellar. [Let me make this clear: I think Donovan McNabb is a better and more accomplished qb than Chad Pennington, by matters of degree.]

The bottom line is that I absolutely think McNabb is entitled to his opinion (to stave off the "He's just speaking his mind, man!" crowd) but sometimes it's simply best not to do so, in his own interest. I think Journey was/is a kick ass band. But I'd never admit that in public or, like, on an internet weblog for the world to know. That would just be stupid. So fucking what if sometimes I turn on Joe Esposito's "You're the Best" and act out the Karate Kid montage? I don't need to tell people about that; you watch me, just once, slaying the hell out of imaginary Cobra Kai trainees in my garage, and you tell me I'm not really the best. Around. Actions > Words.

Similarly, Donovan McNabb would do a lot more for his case if he went out there and worried about the things he can affect -- the trajectory of his passes -- and less about the things he can't, such as media criticism of how he plays. If the media is way off, if he's simply a much better player than they paint him as, fans will see through the bullshit. If he invites us to investigate a numerical comparison between him and, say, Chad Pennington, then if we might reasonably conclude that the two are comparable and yet Donovan gets the better treatment, his race card is going to look more like sour grapes than a thoughtful evaluation on the state of the black quarterback in American Football.

What does this have to do with Your Washington Redskins? Jason Campbell and his glorious, awe-inspiring mustache were on Jim Rome's Rome is Burning minutes ago, and plucky Jim put it to Jason to state his opinion on what McNabb said. I'm paraphrasing here but it was to the effect of:

  1. JC thinks it is more of a positional thing, that quarterbacks in general receive more criticism than their teammates in losses (unstated corolary: they receive more praise in wins) and thus qbs should express solidarity with one another and
  2. All that said, I don't think it is a race issue.
I will say that a legitimate criticism of blogs, media, or anyone that talks about sports -- like me -- is that we try to manufacture controversy often times, and players only help us along when they engage controversial debates such as this. I think it was a very wise move of Jason to sidestep this issue, if only because he won't have to answer at some point down the road, "Hey Jason, do you still feel that black quarterbacks can't get a fair shake?" That's distracting. I think it's already enough that a 25 year old quarterback has to worry about whether his pass will successfully find its way to his receiver's hands while also avoiding the hands of large, fast men who are doing everything possible to stop it from doing so, while some other larger, fast men try and cause physical harm to Jason. Piling on that his pass might not just lose his entire team the game, but that a completion is necessary to combat absurd racism among NFL fans just to prove that black quarterbacks can compete with white quarterbacks (a proven fact -- Mark Brunell lost his job to Jason Campbell and not the other way around)... Why invite this pressure? Let Donovan McNabb get wrapped up in this nonsense.

Kudos to Jason Campbell for avoiding the race card. It showed a lot of maturity, in my opinion, and I think he best serves McNabb's point, if there is one to be made, by focusing on playing great football and winning games. I believe that he will, as he is an outstanding quarterback.

Since this is a controversial issue, I invite reader(s) to disagree vehemently and with expletives. It is a worthwhile discussion to have.