Wednesday, April 21, 2021
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Justin Fields, Dan Orlovsky, and the never-ending degradation of Black QBs with age-old stereotypes

Dan Orlovsky (inset) and Justin Fields.

Dan Orlovsky (inset) and Justin Fields.
Illustration: AP

I discover myself typically being perplexed by the method some issues are taking place. Currently, one of these conditions is the seemingly-inexplicable lower in draft inventory of a quarterback prospect I really like, Justin Fields, who earlier than the season was the consensus second-best quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence. It is mindless to me. All the child did in 2020 was dismantle the competitors, beginning the 12 months with a sport wherein he threw just one incomplete move. He completed the season with a 70.2 completion share, with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions in eight video games. He additionally ran for 383 yards and 5 extra touchdowns on the floor. Yet, someway, this elite recruit, who has had elite faculty manufacturing, is now being seen probably as the fourth- and even fifth-best quarterback on this draft class, behind the likes of Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

Lance, in his personal proper, has been battling the stigma in opposition to operating Black quarterbacks since he was in highschool. A Minnesota native, Lance had dreamed of enjoying for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. While on a go to to the college, head coach P.J. Fleck instructed Lance that he would recruit him as a security, however not as a quarterback. Following that go to, recruiting companies modified his place from QB to ATH (athlete). According to NFL.com, Lance observed the place change that day, on his drive residence from the go to. After that, he was not recruited by Power 5 colleges.

I’ve been offended, however I didn’t perceive why. Not understanding is partially my accountability. See, as my co-worker Carron Phillips lately penned in an article concerning the shock and dismay of New York Yankees normal supervisor Brian Cashman about the racist therapy that Mashahiro Tanaka obtained throughout his time with the Yankees, prompting him to return to play skilled baseball in Japan:

“We don’t need your astonishment and disbelief. It’s pathetic and disrespectful. If you want to be of service, educate yourself. Because only then you will understand that these instances are the rule and not the exception.”

He’s proper. This is nothing new. We had this dialog in our firm group chat simply two days in the past, with me expressing my frustration and disbelief that Justin Fields could possibly be seen as something lower than a top-tier quarterback on this class, and was slapped in the face with the actuality that that is nothing new for Black quarterbacks pre-draft. The actuality is that I’m a white man in America, and I’ll by no means see every thing by the identical lens as a Black man. I wasn’t raised with the inherent understanding of the realities of inequity in the basis and infrastructure of our nation. I used to be raised believing that “all men are created equal,” regardless of the actions of the very males who signed that declaration proudly owning slaves.

As I proceed to study, and undo the institutionalized white-washing of American historical past and tradition, I proceed to do my finest to pay attention and educate myself. We all should. It’s crucial that we proceed to establish our blind spots and pay attention with a coronary heart in the direction of these which have been marginalized in the journey to sympathize. I wrote a number of months in the past about Black quarterbacks in the NFL not being given the identical alternative as white quarterbacks. I don’t know why it ought to shock me that the very same mentality would translate to the draft course of. It was a connection that’s far too apparent for me to not make, however I didn’t see it that method.

On the heels of this intra-company dialog concerning Justin Fields, extra kindling was thrown on the hearth by ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, who made wildly irresponsible and inflammatory remarks concerning the character and work ethic of Fields on the Pat McAfee Show.

I name bullshit. Justin Fields is adored by his coaches and teammates. On Monday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day issued his assist for the quarterback.

“Whatever they teach in terms of a scheme, he’s going to pick that up very, very quickly,” Day mentioned through ESPN. “And he’s very, very competitive. So when you combine the talent, the size, the arm strength, his competitiveness, his toughness, his intelligence, it kind of checks all the boxes. If you were trying to design a quarterback, to me, Justin fits that prototype.”

There has by no means been any off-the-field points round Fields, and no feedback or issues in any method about his work ethic or his dedication to and his ardour for being the finest quarterback he might be. To prime it off, Orlovsky doubled-down with a video this morning attempting to apparently clear the entire mess up.

To begin this video, Orlovsky had apparently “done some digging” and heard from “multiple teams” that there have been questions on his dedication and his need to be nice and all that. This I can truly consider. I can really consider that folks in the entrance places of work of skilled soccer groups probably leaked the identical type of slanderous rhetoric that they’ve repeatedly used to discredit and squash out Black quarterbacks in the NFL. We heard the identical factor with Lamar Jackson, Geno Smith, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and numerous Black quarterbacks which have come earlier than Fields. As it has been dubiously dubbed, Fields is paying the “Black Tax.”

I consider Orlovsky heard that rhetoric. According to his video, it was additionally extremely simple for him to select up a telephone and name the coaches which have truly labored with Fields, which is one thing he ought to have carried out earlier than making slanderous feedback that might probably impression the profession of Justin Fields.

“That forced me to do even more digging over the last 24 hours,” mentioned Orlovsky. “I had two conversations that I want to put out there to try and clarify the situation, or put more out there about the situation. One conversation I had is with an offensive coach at Ohio State, and he said ‘tell them that is absolutely not true; that Justin Fields’ work ethic is spectacular, and that he is a guy that has great football IQ and that is always studying tape,’” Orlovsky mentioned.

Orlovsky continued: “Then, the second conversation I had is with John Beck, who has trained Justin [Fields] as he was heading into his pro day. And John’s had a really positive experience saying ‘listen, this guy is always working incredibly hard on the field, and even after we’re done with our field drills, he’s the guy that wants to stay after and work on different footwork and different throws.”

“In the last 24 hours with more digging, it seems like Justin Fields’ work ethic is fantastic,” Orlovsky concluded.

Well no shit, Dan. This isn’t news to any of us.

There are two main issues at play right here, one of which is much extra deeply rooted than the different. Firstly, Orlovsky disseminated inaccurate data with out vetting it. That was a mistake. Secondly, nevertheless, is far more troubling — the NFL, constructed on the expertise of Black males who account for 70 % of the league, with some of the top-tier, groundbreaking quarterbacks in the league being Black — continues to perpetuate, behind closed doorways, racial tropes surrounding what a quarterback ought to look and sound like in the NFL.

For these of you saying it’s “smoke and mirrors season” and that groups are simply attempting to get the man they need to fall to them, then inform me why I haven’t heard a single remark remotely near this about any of the top-four white quarterbacks on this class. This isn’t a strategic transfer — it’s a racist one.

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