|Aren't the RG3 criticisms awfully familiar to the ones Cam Newton heard last year? (US Presswire)|
So here we go again. Another draft, another franchise quarterback who happens to be black, portrayed as fake and selfish. Your turn under the racial microscope, Robert Griffin III. Congratulations!
There's no weed, jail, hookers, meth, pick-pocketing, ho'ing, schmo'ing, Wonderlic-blowing, car jackin', tantrum-throwing, grade fixing or middle finger raising that has been associated with Griffin. By almost every account, by almost any rational person in the NFL who has met him, the biggest two words you hear about Griffin are: class act.
Said one NFL scout to me on Friday: "He's a total gentleman." In meeting Griffin at the combine that was my impression as well.
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Now, everyone has their issues and secrets. None of this is to portray Griffin as Nelson Mandela. But he's also not the person described by two scouts in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. One said this: "Everybody is just assuming because of the Heisman and the socks and all that B.S. ... they are ignoring a lot of bad tape that he's had. I don't think he has vision or pocket feel, which to me are the two most important components of quarterbacking. He's just running around winging it. He's [Michael] Vick, but not as good a thrower.'
"He has better arm action and is more accurate with his deep ball, but he's not as good as Cam Newton. As much as is written about his athleticism, his athleticism under duress in the pocket isn't even close to Cam Newton's. This guy, the only way he gets big plays with his feet is if he's got a wide-open field and the sea opens for him. He's got a little bit of a selfish streak, too. Everybody was laying that on Cam, but for some reason this guy has become gloves off. He doesn't treat anybody good."
A second scout also questioned how Griffin treats others.
First, those scouts compare Griffin only to other black quarterbacks, which is interesting, because I've never felt compelled to compare Larry Bird only to Rick Barry. But for some reason, a significant number of NFL scouts have it stuck in their antiquated heads that black throwers can only be compared to other black throwers, and in this case, RG3 can only be compared to Vick or Newton. Griffin is actually more like a young Aaron Rodgers.
Most of all, when it comes to black quarterbacks expected to go high in the draft, or drafted at all, every year we step into a time machine, and large chunks of the NFL travel back decades to an era when teams looked for any reason not to draft a black thrower. They were too dumb or too inaccurate or were selfish. Buzz words, excuses, balderdash. Just when you think we've entered a post-racial NFL -- or dreamed about a post-racial NFL -- idiocy like this happens.
And it's happened to so many, too numerous to count: Willie Thrower, Marlin Briscoe, James Harris, Joe Gilliam, Warren Moon and Doug Williams, to name a few. Last draft, it happened to Cam Newton.
Yes, indeed, here we go again. Last year, Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki wrote about Newton's "fake smile."
There was this from Nawrocki: "Negatives: Played in a simplified, run-first, dive-option read offense with very basic high-low reads. Worked exclusively out of the gun and was very quick to run at the first flash of coverage. Limited field vision -- does not process the passing game. Inconsistent throwing mechanics with a flick delivery -- generates all of his power from his upper-body strength and too often arms the ball. Streaky passer with spotty accuracy. Makes his receivers work hard and throws into coverage. Does not spin a tight spiral. Very disingenuous -- has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law -- does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. Only a one-year producer. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness -- is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable."
Newton sure did stink last year. He took that fake ass smile all the way to one of the best rookie seasons in league history.
All potential draft picks get the once over by scouts and media. It's part of the business. But black quarterbacks aren't just picked over. They're attacked.
When a guy who seems to be a genuine goody two-shoes (or two-socks) like Griffin is portrayed as phony less than a week before the draft, when nothing like that has ever been stated before, something strange is at work.
"You could say [I'm] surprised, but you never know," Griffin told CBSSports.com on Friday. "It's just when the draft gets closer, everybody's going to try and find something wrong with you to try and pull you down, so I'm not going to sit here and argue that, well that guy is dead wrong. But I think the people that know me -- and even in the people in the media have seen -- know I'm not a selfish guy. You know you don't have to fight your own battles -- let other people fight them for you. That's about all I can say about that. I heard it, but it's not something I'm going to address."
Another year, another draft, another franchise quarterback who happens to be black, portrayed as fake and selfish.
You're officially part of the NFL Draft now, Robert. Congratulations!