A few weeks ago, we initiated the Roger Wehrli Award. An initiative to recognize the best performance each week by a white cornerback.
We opened up the award to our readers, asking that nominations be submitted so we could truly make this an award representative of the citizenship of Blogfrica.
To our dismay we got no emails with nominations.
We assumed that for some reason, no one was interested in participating in crowning the weekly king of white CB's. So, we dropped the initiative.
Now, much to our surprise, we find that there is a different reason for our not receiving any input.
According to this in depth, investigative column; there are no white CB's in the NFL.
'Still, a single black quarterback would be one more than the number of starting white cornerbacks.'
Upon reading this, we realized that this column was going to be not only factually relevant, but -if it could maintain the momentum of this statement- it also had the potential to present the startlingly obvious in a completely relevant manner. Certainly, one is more than none.
'And one can't help but wonder why the very idea has become such an anomaly. How many white kids from junior high through college were down-shifted, as it were, from corner to safety and from safety to linebacker in anticipation of a career at the next level?'
We asked former college QB's Antoine Randel-El, Ronald Curry, Arnez Battle, and Brad Smith their thoughts on this. All said it must be terribly traumatic for those white kids to be considered too slow and under athletic to play corner. That it must be incredibly difficult to overcome being stereotyped into a position to chase your dreams.
'Like most questions involving race and sports, these may be impossible to answer, but nevertheless worth asking. White cornerbacks lack the same historical baggage black quarterbacks have to carry, but by the same token, is there not a presumption against them? Didn't Jason Sehorn have to do "a little extra" to prove himself?'
Certainly, Sehorn had to overcome incredible bias in his quest to be a top notch corner. Certainly, not only NFL scouts had concerns about white corners, but the public would be skeptical about a white man on the edge of the defense. Additionally, the overwhelmingly white season ticket holders might be loathe to accept a white man as the face of their defense. Might'nt they?
""No," says Sehorn.
Well, being the last white man playing a position that was once all white had to give him a perspective on what it is like for guys like McNabb -playing a position that was once all white.
"We played the Eagles twice a year and they never had a great wide receiver," says Sehorn. "But the one year they give him a great wide receiver — even if he was a malcontent — he gets them to the Super Bowl. And then what?"
Well, then the he is roasted by the media and fans. And then he starts to get a bit defensive after a few years of under performance due to injury.
"As a journalist," says Sehorn, "the first thing I thought was, 'It's not the color of your skin. It's the city you play in.'"
Maybe some day a Negro QB will get the chance to play in Boston. A city famous for accepting Negro athletes. Yes, clearly, it's not the color of your skin. Unless you are in a city that cares about the color of your skin.
And, what does Sehorn think about being the last white corner?
""Being the last doesn't mean anything," he says. "It's not like being the first. It's not like I was a pioneer."
Much as the author cleverly explained that one is more than none. Sehorn's provocative musing brings us full circle.
Last is not first.
To quote the great Ricky Bobby, "If you ain't first, you're last."
And last for a long time.