I went to TGI Fridays with my wife this past Saturday, with a bit of prodding for her. I don’t think I’ve sat down and watched a full game of football this season; she wanted me to watch one in the hopes that, perhaps, I would not complain about not watching enough football.
It was Texans vs. Bills, and my wife knows next to nothing about the game. As an aside, you never understand how needlessly complex football is until you have to explain why, exactly, a touchdown wasn’t a touchdown because the receiver gave himself up, and that the referee made a goof all because someone didn’t take a knee, which signifies the player is down and no longer wants to advance the ball, or why a field goal is 3 points, but an extra point is 1 point, unless the try to run a play for the two yard line, and then that’s 2 points. All the rules sound dumb when you explain them out loud!
So yeah; I had a nice time with my wife watching the Buffalo “No They’re Not Called The Buffalos They’re Called The” Bills and the Houston Texans. I think the player who caught her eye the most was Josh Allen, who (at least in the first half) nimbly escaped the pocket and made throws downfield and with his legs. It took my wife being impressed by his play for me to consider that maybe Allen wasn’t completely terrible, but was merely mediocre. That’s a huge upgrade for me.
But as the game went on, I had another rooting interest. As time went on, I hoped beyond hope that Texans would win. Not because I like their racist owner or their doofus head coach. Nope, there was one reason why I was hoping the Texans won.
“Come on, Deshaun,” I said every time the Texans were on offense.
I’ve made a choice this year; if I’m gonna stop my quasi-exile of watching football, it’s going to be for one reason.
In the immortal words of Issa Rae, I’m rooting for everybody black.
I don’t know if this is the first time we’ve had four black starting quarterbacks in the divisional round of the playoffs, but it certainly feels the most momentous, yeah? It feels like validation; for years, savvy football fans have insisted that teams were under utilizing black quarterbacks and treating them as openly inferior to their white counterparts. For years it seemed like no one was going to really be able to breakthrough; every fit of offensive innovation immediately fell back into “well sure, he did it one year, but this year, let’s put him in a system that doesn’t play to his strengths and see how it goes”.
Teams handicapped and hamstrung themselves all the time in their desperate bids to maintain the status quo; “athletic” quarterbacks couldn’t be relied on unless the played more like their taller, whiter counterparts. The league looked for more Blaine Gabberts and less Colin Kaepernicks. In fact, the league loves Blaine Gabberts. Blaine Gabbert has never been good and he’s still gainfully employed, no matter how many times he proves he’s basically toilet water.
So yeah; Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Russell Wilson starting in the playoffs is pretty fucking kick ass. Mahomes is the reigning MVP, and Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson would’ve had a solid claim to the crown if Lamar Jackson hadn’t shattered records on his way to proving every dumbass who ever thought he should be a wide receiver wrong. The real shame is that the AFC bracket is stacked so that they’ll have to eliminate each other. But still; the NFL playoffs are officially black AF. You should want it to stay this way.
Why? Because maybe, just maybe, it means we can stop having the same ol’ racist conversations about who can and can’t be a quarterback. The dogma surrounding “what a quarterback looks like” has been etched in stone and carried out by uncreative general managers, coaches and owners forever. it is repeated ad naseum by draft analyst, and then repeated by your prejudiced uncle.
“Yeah, Kyler Murray can run, but can he <BELCH!> stay in the pocket! That’s gonna be the question! And there’s lots of questions about his ability to handle an NFL offense! I’m just not sure he’s cut out for this!”
To quote Kylo Ren in the greatest Star Wars movie of all time; “let the past die”. The narratives don’t fit anymore. Each black quarterback who’s in the playoffs is there specifically because their coaches adapted their approaches to something beyond that of a guy who mindlessly stands in the pocket, happy to get crushed by 300 pound dudes. The way to win in the NFL to adapt to guy’s skillset, be that throwing the ball harder than every human on earth like Mahomes, or putting guys on skates like Lamar Jackson. That’s literally the whole point of football, guys!
There’s only been two black men who have won the Super Bowl at quarterback; Doug Williams and Russell Wilson. And so I propose we change that. I propose that you put aside your beefs with your various teams and root for everyone black.
I mean, it’s honestly the least you can do. Do you remember last year’s Super Bowl? Do you remember how insanely not fun it was to watch “slowly but surely declining” Tom Brady tediously best Jared “I Didn’t Think System Quarterbacks Were An Actual Thing Until I Saw” Goff? Do ya’ll really want to see Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garapolo happy? I mean I’m sure they’re swell guys and all, but Russell Wilson versus Lamar Jackson? Or Mahomes? Or Deshaun? Come on, fam; you need you want to root for everyone black. Search your feelings; you know it to be true.
Mostly, I just want 2020 to get off on the right foot. We’re already at the edge of another stupid fucking war for no reason, and despite fielding the most diverse set of candidates in United States history, the Democratic nominee with still be either an old white guy or an old white woman. (Smart money says white man.) I’m not saying America needs this, but…okay, I am saying America needs this.
It needs to be reminded, through the medium of it’s most popular sport, that people of color are still here, and that we still run things despite the numerous factors conspiring to crush us under the boot of an unkind history. It’d be a little win, but fuck it; it’ll take that W. At least it’s something.
So yeah, I’ll be rooting for everybody black. I want to watch a Super Bowl where two of the best black quarterbacks, and best quarterbacks in the league, duke it out in front of the world, the racists, the prejudiced GMs and analysts, and President Papaya Pol Pot’s big stupid farking face. Somehow, I think it’d annoy him that he couldn’t watch Tom Brady and Bill Belichick joylessly win another Super Bowl, and I especially like the idea that maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t show up to the White House to shake his tiny hands. (The chances of that happening are small, but after getting shit on by Trump, I’d be down for Lamar and the whole gang to tell him to kiss their ass and eat some Big Macs on his own.)
Ya’ll should root for everybody black too.