Cris Carter Thinks White Receivers Don’t Get Enough Love; Here’s Why
Listen, we all know that we all know that white and black athletes typically play different roles in American professional sports. It'd be naive to pretend otherwise. That being said, the racial hegemony among the NFL's skill positions is hardly without exception.
Of the 185 wide receivers on active rosters in 2014, 17 were white -- two of which wound up in the top 10 in receptions. Do they get the same recognition as receivers of other races? Cris Carter seems to think not.
"i just don't think they give them credit. they make excuses, they say it's the system, they say it's the quarterback. but a guy has a certain skill set and that means if he plays outside, plays inside, to me they are very, very good athletes. and they don't give them credit for their athleticism. kind of like when serena was always playing tennis and people would always talk about how powerful she was and how her serve was so great, they never talked about her intellect or her strategy, which now has taken her game to another level. but earlier in her career, they never, ever talked about that and i think that had something to do with race."
It goes without saying that we like to put our athletes into neat little boxes, and race is a determining factor for which box any particular player gets put in. White guys are "unathletic." They go in the "hustler" box. They're described using coded language like "scrappy" and "tough," as if they've figured out how to compensate for their lack of Olympic-caliber athleticism with their cunning white guy brains. As the logic goes, their "blue collar" approach allows them to grind out a living -- which is undoubtedly admirable, though perhaps not especially amazing. They don't get called "freak." We do not speak of their jumping/running/cutting/catching abilities in the same way we speak about those of black players. So does the way we (often inaccurately) prejudge white wide receivers to be lesser athletes mean there's an unfair bias against white players? Are guys like Julian Edelman and Jordy Nelson getting shortchanged by the public?
Of course not.
The perceived bias against white athletes is an indirect slight at their black counterparts. This has been written about far too many times for you to not know this, but I'll say it just to be clear at the expense of sounding like a freshman at a Liberal Arts school in Connecticut: by attributing the success of white wide receivers to hard work, we're essentially saying that black receivers -- like Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones -- don't have to work as hard because they're physically gifted. How we downplay Julian Edelman's athleticism is a continuation of the narrative that white people work hard and black people are given things. Welcome to America -- people think this way whether they like it or not.
"i believe the celebration with cam newton has something to do with race, but i evaluate wide receivers and i evaluate what they can do and what they can't do, how to utilize within their offense, not what color they are or limiting their athletic ability, in my mind, before i look at the tape. and jordy nelson is one of the best route runners, very, very explosive, a deep threat and can run any route in the route tree and is great with the ball in his hands after the catch. now, edelman is a tremendous slot receiver, has great short area quickness, has the understandability to read the defense and great chemistry with tom brady. i believe he's just as good as troy brown was but people give credit to troy brown for being good, and i think wes welker and edelman and some other guys don't get credit because they're white, and when people evaluate them they think that they're less athletes or products of the system and i just don't think that's fair to what they're doing and what they're accomplishing."
The full 2014 positional demographic breakdown by race, below...
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