An article on former Notre Dame safety and current Baltimore Raven defensive back Tom Zbikowski contained this nugget of wisdom that will come in handy as we discuss an achievement that transpired last Sunday:
“When you’re a white athlete, you’re never fast,” Ed (Zbikowski, Tom’s father) said without a hint of resentment or disrespect in his voice. “It’s reality, and we dealt with it.”
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CSTV and the Prep Football Report, said Zbikowski’s saga is hardly isolated.
“When it comes to football, white athletes have to prove themselves more than black athletes at certain positions — cornerback, wide receiver and running back,” Lemming said. “There’s a prejudice amongst a lot of college coaches — not all of them — that white guys can’t play those positions. So when they get to college, they get switched right away to other positions.
Lemming was quoted in The Blind Side saying something quite similar (page 37):
“And there were anti-types: lord help the white receiver or the white running back, or until the earlier 1990s, the black quarterback.”
We have written about Peyton Hillis before and white running backs in general, from Toby Gerhart to Jacob Hester. Last Sunday, Hillis became the first white running back in 25 years to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season:
It has been a wild ride for Hillis who led the Denver Broncos in his rookie season but was sidelined due to an injury at the end of his inaugural season in the NFL. In his sophomore season, first year head coach Josh McDaniels made the big back the fourth stringer and he amassed only 13 carries the entire year. In the offseason, he was traded to the Browns with a draft pick for Brady Quinn. McDaniels was fired this week while Hillis continues to punish NFL defenses week in and week out.
When Hillis looks back on those days, he can’t come up with an adequate explanation as to why nobody could see him in a feature role. Even in Cleveland, he started as a fullback until injuries led to a shot in a Week 3 game against Baltimore, a chance that Hillis turned into a 144-yard effort.
“I think it was about not being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “Or maybe it was about not being in the right scheme. But I’m not worried about that now. I’m just focused on being in the right situation here.”
Since Hillis can’t make sense of his past, I’ll take a stab at it. His previous coaches likely spent so much time looking for runners with certain skill sets that they never envisioned that Hillis could be more than what he was. He got placed in a box, and that’s not just because of his skin color. It’s because this is what happens when people don’t have the vision to see beyond the expectations they’ve already established in their own minds.
If you think this is flawed logic, just consider the plight of black quarterbacks in the past. Many were labeled as “athletes” or “scramblers” and rarely given a chance to show their abilities as passers because they didn’t fit a certain NFL mold. The irony now is that mobility is a treasured asset in quarterbacks, but that’s also beside the point. In those days, if you didn’t look the part, you didn’t get the part.
Caste Football is a Web site that documents the trend in professional sports for white players to be actively discriminated against, and the Peyton Hillis situation has been the story that finally shown the brightest veracity upon their position.
White players are discriminated against, starting at the high school level. In the past, Black players were “stacked” at certain positions, but today it is white players who are “stacked” at the quarterback, tight end, offensive line and thrown the occasional scrapes of defensive end, linebacker and safety on defense.
Hillis has aptly shown what happens when a white player gets an opportunity at forbidden positions (just as Gerhart and Hester did in college football). And remember, it took a number of injuries for him to finally have the chance to excel.
One Black writer at Atlantic magazine wrote:
I would not argue that no amount of stereotyping happens in proathletics. But I’d like to see something more detailed and less based on vague impressions. I’ve linked to this before, but I think this Josh Levin piece establishes a pretty convincing pattern in the NBA.
Look, the evidence has been documented with exceptional detail at Caste Football. Stereotyping does exist and Hillis has helped show how pervasive this stereotyping has become. His 1,000+ rushing yards in 2010 has undeniably altered the debate about just where discrimination currently can be found.
Remember: sports offer the only positive views of Black people in contemporary America. Having All-American looking running backs dominating a league that is 70 percent Black (check out the racial breakdown of the NFL here) isn’t good for sports, or at least for fueling positive images of Black people.
How many thousands of white athletes at the high school have been dissuaded from pursing collegiate athletics because a coach moved them from a certain position to a more racially appropriate one or a talent evaluator (like Lemming) saw no reason in promoting them at a position that is quickly becoming off-limits to white players (see running back, corner, safety or receiver)?
Peyton Hillis running for more than 1,000 yards despite attempts to pigeon-hole him as a fullback has finally vindicated Caste Football and proved the conspiracy exists as the Web site has always maintained.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes Peyton Hillis rushing for more than 1,000 yards, for a white running back isn’t supposed to be fast enough to elude the tackles of superior Black athletes on defense. Sports –basketball (which ESPN promotes tirelessly) and football– are the play grounds for Black people to showcase their talents; and for a white boy to run around, over and through Black people is a blow to the entire rigged system that Caste Football has been declaring exists.
It should be stated that Hillis was not the feature (primary) running back in Cleveland until week three.