Personally, I think the only out of bounds thing that McNabb did was being a public figure daring to try to discuss race and perception of job performance in a television interview. I don't particularly want to write about it in a blog post either, because I am not sure that our society can have a thoughtful discussion of this topic. Especially in the form of a short blog entry and mostly anonymous reader comments.
The reason I like writing about sports is that it is terribly fun to be very passionate about stuff that really doesn't matter and is escapist entertainment.
It gets ugly when you write about race or gender and job performance because our country is damaged on this subject. Just about anybody you know who has had a real job has experienced discrimination, no matter what their race, gender, age or whatever. And to be judged not based on your performance but by your immutable characteristics that have nothing to do with anything, well it bites.
To paraphrase, McNabb claims that black quarterbacks have to do "a little extra" to overcome people's biases against black quarterbacks. For me, that's not a terribly provocative statement other than he said it out loud.
I think anyone who does a job that has been traditionally not performed by people of their race or gender do feel like they have to perform better at their job in order to overcome people's traditional biases. Most of my career choices have been in traditionally male professions, and I know I've felt that way. And for some reason, it is grim to even admit that.
And McNabb went through all that racial discussion brought up by Rush Limbaugh, certainly something that made him very aware of how at least some people perceive him.
Because we are all damaged. We want to live a performance-based, unbiased society, but we are humans, and humans have biases. Some of those biases are conscious, some unconscious, some legal, some illegal, and discussions of some biases usually turns into a ugly cluster.
Sports biases are much more fun to talk about. Let me state categorically that I loathe the Dallas Cowboys.
Does Donovan McNabb get more criticism than his white counterparts? The quarterback position is the most scrutinized position in the NFL and is one of the few positions that even casual fans can say anything about. They get more credit and more criticism. Hard to measure relative criticism in different circumstances, but I could see how McNabb feels the way he does.
In 2006, I heard and read plenty of sports talk cretinism as it related to race and Vince Young. Right after the draft, on my former blog, any time I mentioned Vince Young, there would always be a few really nasty racial blasts that I'd have to delete. I am guessing that the stuff a black quarterback hears during the course of his life would probably be worse than that.
McNabb doesn't say everybody is racist, but I am sure he hears enough filth to make him feel he gets criticized more and has to work harder than his peers.
As a fan, you might think McNabb is right or being a whiner or racist or just answering a direct question or whatever, but I'm not sure that the truth as it relates to race, is the same sort of absolute truth that you get solving math problems.
I'd like to have a thoughtful discussion of this, but today's sports talk radio doesn't make me terribly optimistic. Cowboy bashing is much more fun. What say you?
Previously at FanHouse:
McNabb's Race Comments Way Out of Bounds