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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.


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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Friday, January 14, 2005

History In The Making?


As Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend approaches, NFL history is close to being made.

With Tony Dungy of the Colts and Herman Edwards of the "New York" Jets leading teams to the divisional round of the AFC this weekend, there is a 50% chance that an African-American will head coach for a Super Bowl team this year.

With the Eagles' Donovan McNabb, the Falcons Michael Vick, and Vikings' Daunte Culpepper all starting for NFC divisional playoff teams this weekend, there is a 75% chance that an African-American QB will start for in that game as well. In fact, if Mike Vick's Falcons beat the Rams on Saturday, barring injury, it will happen.

And for that, you can thank a man who no longer coaches in the NFL, the NFL Commissioner, and a guy who never played for either.


The first modern black coach in the NFL was Art Shell. Shell led the Los Angeles Raiders to a 54-38 regular season record, leading the team to the playoffs twice.

His hire came as current NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue assumed his office in 1989. Tagliabue made an organized effort to recruit and hire black coaches in the NFL, and convinced the league to develop rules demanding that blacks get interviews for head coaching positions.

It is, what you would call, affirmative action, and it is a point of debate every time an NFL head coaching position becomes vacant.

There was no affirmative action for black quarterbacks though. For that to happen on a regular basis, the NFL had to be shamed.


Houston Rockets' guard Charlie Ward was a Heisman award winning (and national champion) quarterback for Florida State.

But in the 1994 draft, he was not picked at all. Despite the praises Ward received from college coaches, pro scouts it was said, felt he was too short and didn’t have a great arm.

Ward would go on to be a first round draft pick for the NBA's New York Knicks. "It's part of God's plan and part of life," said Ward, years after.

Others felt it was racism, and it became a huge black eye for the NFL.

At that time, only two black quarterbacks had been drafted in the first round in the league's history, Doug Williams in 1978, and Andre Ware in 1990. This is at a time when guys like Warren Moon would go undrafted and have to play in the CFL.

That is, if they were allowed to play QB at all. Even until the mid-90s, high school and college black QBs were converted to other positions to take better advantage of their "athletic ability".

Enough was enough. There was a problem here, and the NFL knew it.


The very next year, Steve McNair, a guy who could not get a QB position in any of the 100+ division I-A colleges (that's another story), became the third black quarterback in NFL history to be drafted in the first round. It would take a couple of seasons before he would make his impact on the field, but his signing was a PR coup for the NFL. If McNair had not gone in the first round, it would have been a disaster for the league.

It bought them time.

Also shamed by the Ward passover, and stung by criticism that guys like Steve McNair were not given opportunities to play as quarterbacks at the Division I-A level, the major NCAA teams started giving more opportunities to black QBs.

This led, directly, to the watershed draft of 1999, when Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, and Daunte Culpepper all were drafted in the first round...doubling the number of blacks drafted then in league history. The NFL was now a place where black QBs could get a chance.

Months after that historic draft, Steve McNair became the first black QB to lead a team through an entire season to a Super Bowl. The glass ceiling was broken.

Two of those three drafted in '99 will play each other Sunday.

They have Charlie Ward to thank.

Maybe he was in God's plan after all.


"New York" Jets head coach Herman Edwards is two games away from making NFL history. If he, or Tony Dungy, can win a Super Bowl, it might open the flood gates for NFL coaches in the same way guys like Charlie Ward and Steve McNair did for quarterbacks.

We shall see.

More sports.

BLOGS / NEWS OF THE DAY:
Ted Kennedy made an Er-a according to the AofG, calling Illinois Senator Barak Obama "Osama bin..." Way to go Teddy.

The Moderate Voice responds
to the Daily Kos being on the payroll of the Dean campaign last year.

Riasawn, a national guardsman, blogs on her views on the Iraq War.

10 Comments:

Blogger C.F. Kane said...

I am very proud to see 3 black QBs and 2 black head coaches head into the playoffs. All these men needed was the opportunity and, look what they've accomplished.

I agree it was all God's plan.

Friday, 14 January, 2005  
Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue knew he had a problem on his hands and he took care of it. I'm happy to see 2 black head coaches and 3 black QB in the playoffs.

I guess this dispells on the myths about how black QBs are not very good leaders.

Friday, 14 January, 2005  
Blogger Jackie Chiles said...

Al Campanis is turning over in his grave.

Nice work, Nominal.

Friday, 14 January, 2005  
Blogger Janet said...

Too. Much. Sports. Nothing. To. Say.:(

Friday, 14 January, 2005  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

Sorry Janet, it's January. Every red-blooded-hetero-male is thinking about the football playoffs right now.

I'll try to come up with something non-football related next week.

Saturday, 15 January, 2005  
Blogger Jackie Chiles said...

Hey Nominal, do you really think the Charlie Ward situation had such a big effect? I really don't recall anyone making much a stink about him getting passed over. Seems to me that the rise of the black quarterback had to more to do with guys getting it done on the field like Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon. But Charlie Ward? Not so much.

Saturday, 15 January, 2005  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

Yeah, I do.

Williams, Moon, and Cunningham were the "examples" of how black quarterbacks had opportunities to play in the NFL. The three of them were important, as they were undoubtedly inspirational for black athletes wanting to change the position.

But when a guy wins the Heisman Trophy and leads a team to the national championship as Ward did, something not done very often, and doesn't get drafted at all, it exposed structural issues relating to black athletes in college and pro football.

Then Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was quoted in the Sporting News saying, "There's still a stigma that blacks ... can't figure out sophisticated pro-style offenses. It's a tragedy that Charlie Ward wasn't drafted. And don't give me that bull about how he was thinking of playing in the NBA."

Had Ward been drafted in a later round and not signed due to him going to the NBA, then it wouldn't be an issue. But no one signed him at all. That left a bitter taste in people's mouths, and led to more opportunities for black QBs in college the next year, and thus the pro game

Saturday, 15 January, 2005  
Blogger Jackie Chiles said...

Solid argument, Nominal. And that's a great quote from Jimmy Johnson. But, from where I sit, the stigma was not removed because some guy didn't get drafted, it was removed because guys got it done on the field. Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Saturday, 15 January, 2005  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

I don't disagree with you that the stigma was defeated on the field. What I'm saying is that guys like Culpepper and McNabb would probably have been converted to running backs and wide receivers had not the Ward controversy happened.

Those guys are doing it on the field now. I don't think they would have had any shot at all.

Saturday, 15 January, 2005  
Blogger Sports Junky said...

I agree,

I love Football. and recently I have bought stock in it. Not like real stock on Wall street, but a stock market that is strictly for sports.

You have seen it? Its pretty cool. You buy issues for your favorite teams and you make real money. Not like a fake stock simulator. I cash out Dividends each time the team wins. Also I can sell my team stock when the price goes up.

check it out if something like this interests you.
heres a link http://allsportsmarket.com
you can log in and check it out for free..

They just released IPO'S for Football this week, so there are alot of good deals there.

Keep up the good work on your blog!
-Erik

Monday, 03 October, 2005  

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