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The Not So New "Weirdness" of Heightened Scrutiny

DISCLAIMER: The article is not meant to make any political statement regarding racial issues in the United States, merely an observation of the recent occurrences surrounding Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray. In no way do I excuse or condone certain off the field actions of certain players in this article and those not mentioned as well. Please keep comments and messages civil and polite. Thank you.

Today, Patrick Mahomes was asked about recent statements made around the league regarding his play as streetball and not seeing past his first read (A statement that is a complete farce if you actually watch Patrick Mahomes's film and know the game of football) He called the scrutiny of him "Weird" along with mentioning the scrutiny surrounding Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray as weird too. If you do not already know, Lamar Jackson has been scrutinized for his playoff record, not being able to win in clutch situations, and (and this one has followed him since HIGH SCHOOL) being more of a scrambling quarterback above all else, a "running back" as he has been often called. As for Kyler Murray, he has been called lazy, immature, and entitled for his actions surrounding the end of the season last year going into this year, the year his rookie contract expires. He got his contract, however it came with a 4 hour "independent study clause" of which he would have to learn game plan and watch film on his own, something that has since been removed from the stipulations for what we can assume is internet backlash. Both Kyler and Lamar have made statements on these criticisms, Kyler calling the statements "Disrespectful" and takes offense on how his work ethic has been put into question even after leading the Cardinals to their first playoff spot in 6 years and having Top 10 quarterback numbers. Lamar defended himself by pointing to his MVP win, pointing out multiple game winning drives he's led (including one against the Chiefs) and by pointing to his passing numbers.

So what gives you might ask? We know as the public that these guys are decent at absolute WORST in the field of play, so why does it seem like their name can't stay out of negative headlines regarding their play? What is with the constant bashing of their playing ability that has been tried and true to this point? Well, we have a common denominator between the three, and frankly speaking it's a denominator that has been the spark of many debates even dating back to the days of Randall Cunningham. They're black quarterbacks in the NFL. This is absolutely nothing new for the league and the media surrounding it. Black quarterbacks have long been the subject of heightened scrutiny, specifically for their “game intelligence” it seems, and the league and media has had a lot of trouble shaking the allegations that they put black quarterbacks under a bigger microscope regarding being students of the game, pointing out flaws extensively while only celebrating accomplishments when it benefits them and their brand to do so. They use different phrasing, run scouting differently, and overall? It's kind of undeniable and entirely visible that that different treatment exists. Take Josh Allen for example, a white quarterback that in most facets, is very similar in play style to Patrick Mahomes. He can throw the ball out of the pocket or inside with great precision, he can run the ball well, he's a leader in his organization, and has a ton of fanfare. When is the last time you saw Josh Allen be criticized in the media the way Patrick Mahomes is? Aaron Rodgers as well, both guys are heralded as these incredible quarterbacks and can do no wrong in terms of on the field actions and game knowledge, and I'm not saying that Mahomes, Jackson, or Murray don't get their just due mostly, but there seems to be a heightened level of scrutiny for the game knowledge they possess and different verbiage from organizations, scouts, and media when talking about these guys. That they’re “athletic but disorganized.” We know Patrick Mahomes is a great quarterback but had a "down" year last year, the media and certain people of influence in the NFL have acted like he's fallen off the wagon entirely and that his style of play is erratic and reckless. That he's not as good as everyone made him out to be because he’s too “streetball.”

WHY? The man dealt with bad defenses the past two years, his O-Line was patchwork in Super Bowl 55, and pretty much the only flaw you can point to in his game last year was that he threw the most interceptions in his career so far (less than Josh Allen’s total)...while still throwing for the most yards (over 4800) he's thrown for since 2018...You can say the same for both Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray as well, both showed improved performance since two years ago, both made the playoffs, Lamar had a significant injury, and Kyler Murray ran into the eventual Super Bowl champs last year. I can point to multiple other examples than just these three as well, Michael Vick (What he did was heinous, but he was getting criticized though for his on field play being "backyard and risky" before his criminal actions) Randall Cunningham, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Cam Newton, David Garrard, Warren Moon, and a host of others have all found themselves under scrutiny that you just don't/didn't see with white quarterbacks, and it mostly has to do with intelligence and leadership. Can you honestly tell me though that Eli Manning is somehow, some way better than Lamar Jackson at football? Go look at stats, and pay little mind to rings, I promise you they do not mean nearly as much as everyone thinks they do. Football is a team game and it is won by teams, and guys like Eli Manning and Tom Brady, though still excellent quarterbacks, could not have won ANY of those Super Bowls without the team they had around them. Seldom was the win due to their performances or “leadership”. A topic for another time though, however. Correlation may not equal causation, but there is a constant coincidence that cannot be ignored and has been around since the NFL's inception. The narrative needs to change regarding black quarterbacks, and though the league has made progress since you know, the 60s, until that narrative does change in full to where it is with parity that these outlets pass judgement you are going to see the continued underselling and panning of these guys' skills, intelligence, and accomplishments.

I'm sorry for the long article, and again I welcome any open, honest, and polite discussion regarding the issue. I understand that this is a sensitive topic and in no way am I trying to make a political statement, but I feel it needed to be addressed and talked about as again, this is nothing new for the NFL and is a stigma that needs to be put to rest entirely. It's a well known stigma, and one that needs to change. There are athletically gifted and intelligent white quarterbacks, there are athletically gifted and intelligent black quarterbacks, but both need to be treated equally by the NFL in terms of media presence, verbiage, scouting, and accomplishments. Until then, issues like these will continue to reflect poorly on the NFL and unfortunately, tarnish the reputations of otherwise incredible athletes and quarterbacks.

Burn Notice: 10/10

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