Former Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara was generally regarded as one of the top players available in the NFL Draft, but when draft day actually came, he fell to the 19th spot in the first round, where the New York Giants snatched him up. Not a disastrous fall, but a fall nonetheless…and if there’s any truth to a tidbit today from National Football Post’s Dan Pompei, one contributing factor in Amukamara’s fall was just about the dumbest thing imaginable.
That’s because Pompei said he heard teams might have been wary of Amukamara because…he’s Nigerian:
A lot of NFL people are skeptical about Nigerian players like Amukarma [sic]. “And it’s not just white men,” one executive said. “It’s whites and blacks.” It’s still a subtle form of racism. The word on Nigerians: they are soft, not tough enough and too educated.
Putting aside the fact that Amukamara was born near Boston and grew up in Arizona (his parents are from Nigeria), there’s a whole lot wrong with this line of thinking. First off, stereotyping an entire group of people and reducing them to a few common traits – never a good idea, despite what The Onion might tell you.
Secondly: “too educated.” Describing any group of people as “too educated” is gross. Describing a group of people of African descent as “too educated” – whether the group of people who allegedly thinks that way includes both “whites and blacks” or not – it seems a relic of a certain dark period of our nation’s history, one that ought to have been left behind for good a long, long time ago.
Pompei himself called the mindset he was hearing about “a subtle form of racism.” Well, if what he said was true – that NFL teams worry about a specific group of players with African roots because their level of education is too high for their liking – there’s nothing subtle about it.
It would be even worse than the “quarterbacks with red hair” conundrum. It would be even worse than if teams saw “Nigerian” and “Prince” and worried Amukamara would start sending them spam emails. It would be the dumbest, appallingly condescending at best, straight-up racist at worst “method” of prospect “evaluation” we’d ever heard of from NFL teams, and for the league’s sake, we hope Pompei had some bad intel.