Pride, Prejudice, & Scouting

Many analysts are guilty by association

by Justin Day | @JDayErrday |

Just to set the record straight, I have been inwardly debating writing this topic with myself for about a month now. I do believe that now is the time to do so. Racism is a problem that is as almost American as baseball & apple pie. So it should come as no surprise that it has even manifested itself in the football scouting world. How long has it been there? That I don’t know but I can tell you I’ve seen it every year since I have been involved in the business.

This 2017 draft is going to stink of it the most all because of one prospect in particular, but before we talk about that, let’s talk about a more general topic, player comparisons. Anyone who follows me knows that I have no problem comparing any collegiate player to any former/current NFL players such as: Jameis Winston to Ben Roethlisberger, Derrick Henry to Peyton Hillis, Johnny Manziel to Michael Vick, or Dak Prescott to Tim Tebow.

Have you ever noticed though that when people want to compare black quarterbacks or white running backs to former or current NFL players they always seem to compare them to someone with the same skin color? How many black college quarterbacks are Donovan McNabb? I mean honestly, that was the most common comparison to Jameis Winston that I saw in his draft process.

Now this may not seem like a huge issue to you, the reader, but to me it points to something fundamentally wrong with how some of us think. How come when scouting a player we have to factor in their skin color when figuring out a comp? Why can’t we just put the tape in and pick the player who skills and play style are the most alike? I can honestly say that is what I try to do each and every time I am studying a player.

This upcoming draft though is a special one and for many reasons but one player in particular, Christian McCaffrey. He’s going to shatter those comparisons because you cannot find a white running back to compare him to and even if you try then we will all see you for what you are and we will laugh you off of your high horse.

There is one big problem though, he is a white running back, that’s like seeing a mermaid riding a unicorn across Atlantis. So of course no one is taking him that seriously, I mean not as seriously as they would if he were a black running back. Now I’m not the only one saying it, hell Christian himself even spoke out about it. Here’s the thing though, it’s not his peers or even the fans who aren’t giving him his due. It’s the scouts and the media who are asking; Is he a one year wonder? Is it the offense? Will his finesse style translate to the NFL?

Reggie Bush is my comp for McCaffrey, I mean they play so similar. Difference is though, when my New Orleans Saints drafted Reggie Bush with the 2nd overall pick he was marketed as god’s gift to football. A dual threat, a running back that could run between the tackles with break neck speeds & a pass catcher out of the backfield. The exact same as Reggie Bush but because he plays a position that is dominated by black athletes, he doesn’t get the rub?

Now this isn’t the only instance of racism in the world of football, how was there even a discussion a year ago between Winston & Mariota? I mean watch the tape, it speaks for itself, but just because Jameis was accused of rape & took some crab legs he’s a “thug” you can’t trust him. I think the real problem was a lot of you had a problem with a franchise black quarterback being the face of a franchise.

Look at the double standards that we give players that are already in the NFL. Cam Newton dances, he’s a thug. Tom Brady yells obscenities in the direction of his teammates after a bad play, he’s just really competitive. Marshawn Lynch doesn’t like talking to the media, he’s a thug he should do his job. Rob Gronkowski throws girls only football camps and goes on exotic cruises, he’s just a fun loving party guy.

Whether you want to admit it or not, racism is a huge problem in the NFL, and in sports. Thug is the new N word and people are now using it to describe every black athlete they dislike and on the other hand scouts can’t seem to cope with the idea of a black franchise NFL quarterback or an actual extremely talented franchise level white running back. All of this within a climate where an actual candidate for president is the poster boy for racism.

To solve a problem, we first have to admit that we have one. Consider this my open letter to other scouts, talent evaluators, fans, the NFL, whom ever it may concern, & whomever reads this damn article. There is a problem, it’s not just football, it’s our country but what else embodies the USA like football? I love this sport and I love evaluating it, but this issue pisses me off. So this is my way of saying we need to man up and make some changes.

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