Luther Campbell, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Campbell addresses why African-American NFL quarterbacks don't have any heroes to look up to.
In baseball, African-American players can look up to guys like Vida Blue and Hank Aaron, who broke down racial barriers in their sport. In boxing, fighters can point to Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali for inspiration. On the hardcourt, ballers grow up wanting to be like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and Michael Jordan. When he won the Masters, Tiger Woods saluted all the great African-American golfers who came before him and were not allowed to play in the game's most important tournament.
Yet when you talk about all-time great quarterbacks in pro football, the names most enthusiasts throw out are Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Namath. No one mentions Doug Williams, even though the former Grambling State quarterback began his professional career in 1978 by guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to its first three winning seasons — and then capped it off with an MVP performance in Super Bowl XXII while leading the Washington Redskins to victory.
Williams is the only black QB to win an NFL championship, but you don't hear Michael Vick, Vince Young, and Donovan McNabb saying they want to be like the guy who passed for five touchdowns in the second quarter, a Super Bowl record.
The reason: Vick, Young, and McNabb have been pacified by the NFL's insistence that quarterbacks have to be like Tom Brady and the Manning brothers. The irony is that Vick, Young, and McNabb have been widely criticized for playing the game the same way Unitas and Staubach always did, with attitude and athleticism. The NFL's three most prominent black quarterbacks would have won a Super Bowl by now if the franchises they play for allowed them to use their speed and quickness that made them superstars in little league, high school, and college.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Instead, Vick, Young, and McNabb became complacent, allowing team owners, general managers, and coaches to tell them how they should play the game — by dropping back in the pocket like Brady.
That's why I'm rooting for Cam Newton, the electric Carolina Panthers rookie from Auburn. I believe he'll become the first African-American to truly give younger black quarterbacks — such as Baylor University's Robert Griffin III, this year's Heisman Trophy winner — someone to follow.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.