This was the weekend of the NFL Draft, a media spectacle featuring the 32 franchises supposedly scrambling to pick the best college football athletes in the country. This year, the Draft was expected to be watched by some 50 million people. [NFL Turns Its 6-Month Season Into a 12-Month Business, CNBC, April 26, 2013]
The NFL isn't just a sports-entertainment empire that generates many billions of profit per year. It's also a wonderful distraction—an opiate for the masses, if you will—from such frivolous news as the Gang of Eight’s desire to turn all of America into California.
But it's more than that. It's another battlefield in America's long war against her own people.
In the NFL, there is no such thing as “white privilege”. There’s systematic anti-white bias, as I’ve documented here.
The NFL's studied indifference to its lack of white players contrasts dramatically with the attitudes of other professional sports leagues accused of having too few blacks. Major League Baseball (MLB) has no problem conducting studies to try and figure out why so few of its on-field employees are black. Incredibly, even the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) has seen accusations of being anti-black, with the Minnesota Timberwolves attacked for being “too white” for daring to have 10 of its 15 players be non-black in an 80 percent black league.
White players are actively discriminated against in most professional sports, but especially football. Let's take one example: the stereotypically black position of wide receiver. In the 2013 Draft, of the 254 players selected, 28 were receivers (11 percent). Of those 28 receivers selected, only one was a white athlete—Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope, who ran the second fastest 40-yard-dash for a receiver at the NFL Combine, at 4.34.
He was selected in the sixth round, despite being one of the top receivers in college football, projected as a third or fourth round pick.
Another overlooked white receiver: Conner Vernon, the record-setting star from Duke University. He wasn’t drafted, although he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Raiders. This means he will be forced to compete for a roster spot.
Vernon’s problems began in high school. He was a fervent fan of his hometown University of Miami, but his favorite team ignored him, as did just about everyone else. The reason is something that “white privilege” ideologues can’t explain:
Despite his accomplishments and the seven other members of his class getting Division I attention, Vernon still had no offers and had yet to get a call from a Football Bowl Subdivision school.
“Bob Stoops, (Steve) Spurrier, all those guys were at the school at one time or another, and the coaches would tell them, ‘you need to look at this kid, you need to look at this kid,’ ” Robert Vernon, Conner’s father, said. “And they said, ‘yeah, yeah, we’ll look at him,’ but they didn’t. They took Conner for granted.”
Shane Vernon, who received offers from FCS or Division II schools, has another theory.
“I knew the stereotypes and stigmas that were in football,” he said. “I got to learn it the hard way. It’s an uphill battle, and you have this white boy stigma. It’s always there, no matter how good you are, what you do, it will always be there, so you’ve just got to stand out that much more.”
Vernon stood out during spring football before his senior year. He was named the sleeper of the Under Armour/Scout combine after he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash.
Vernon grows into record-setting receiver for Duke, Charlotte Observer, August 27, 2012]
Despite Vernon’s accomplishments, not one Florida college offered him a scholarship coming out of high school. Only Duke, the University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt, Troy and Wake Forest approached one of the best high school players in the country.
It didn't stop him. While at Duke, Vernon became the most productive receiver in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) history, posting multiple seasons of 70+ catches.
Nonetheless, this weekend, Vernon wasn't even drafted.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who has built a lucrative career out of evaluating NFL Draft prospects, had projected Vernon to be a 5th round selection. In his analysis, he compared Vernon to another white receiver, Wes Welker, saying, “[Vernon is] a strong kid with very deceptive speed.” (Incidentally, why is the speed of a white receiver “deceptive?”)
Interestingly, Welker (who recently signed with the Denver Broncos) also went undrafted by the NFL in 2004—in fact, he only had one scholarship coming out of high school. He has since gone on to have one of the most productive receiving careers in NFL history.
Vernon himself is well aware of what is happening.
Conner Vernon watched Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker work the slot, noting how the 5-9, 185-pound water bug set up his routes to create space when he made a break one way or another during workouts at Duke University this month.
Then Vernon would peek to the outside to see Welker's teammate, Eric Decker, using his 6-3, 218-pound frame to get separation from defensive backs on top of him.
All the while, Vernon, 22, wondered how he possibly could have drawn comparisons to two wide receivers whose styles of play are vastly different from each other's.
"It's funny how, nowadays, you're just comparing race to race here," the Duke receiver and projected midround pick told USA TODAY Sports. "Aside from my skin color, I don't see where they got that assumption.
[Typecasting confounds Duke's Conner Vernon, Mike Garafolo, USA TODAY, April 22, 2013]
Both Welker and Decker are white wide receivers for the Denver Broncos. They’ll be catching a lot of footballs in 2013 thrown by Peyton Manning. Peyton's brother Eli of the NY Giants commented casually of Vernon, “He does have some talent, so it'll be interesting to see if he does get a shot somewhere."
Why would Vernon’s abilities be so lightly dismissed? Well, the same reason the Green Bay Packers Jordy Nelson wasn’t treated as a big threat – he’s a white guy trying to play a position long dominated by black athletes [Teammates say Jordy Nelson is underestimated because he’s white, Pro Football Talk, November 19, 2011].
According to TIDES Sports, only 13 percent of those employed as wide receivers in the NFL last season were white; 87 percent were black. The NFL as a whole is roughly 67 percent black and 30 percent white. Since 1998, each season roughly 90-91 percent of those employed as receivers in the NFL have been black athletes.
Nonetheless, every year it seems another white receiver displays “some talent”—to use Eli Manning’s term—and becomes fodder for a quick Man Bites Dog news story:
As one white receiver put it, "We're a minority... in many ways being a white receiver is kind of like being an African-American golfer. I don't know why it's like that, but that's just the way it is."
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played receiver his first two years at Texas A&M, knows about the stereotyping Hartline faces. About being called “deceptively fast,” Tannehill said, “I’ve had that label before, too. It’s just kind of a stigma that comes with it.”
[Brian Hartline trying to prove that he can be the speedy deep threat the Miami Dolphins have sought, Palm Beach Post, October 10, 2012]
What is the NFL doing about this lack of real diversity? Needless to say, it is campaigning for more non-white head and assistant coaches, front office personnel, physicians, and broadcasters.
Paul Kersey[Email him] is the author of the blog SBPDL, and has published the books SBPDL Year One, Hollywood in Blackface and Escape From Detroit, and Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White.