Friday, September 9, 2022

Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America by Jason Reid

Rise of the Black Quarterback: What is Means for America
by Jason Reid
288 pages
Published August 2022 by Andscape
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary: 
In September 2019, ESPN's The Undefeated website (now Andscape) began a season-long series of articles on the emergence of Black quarterbacks in the NFL. The first article in the series was Jason Reid's enormously popular, "Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback." The series culminated with an hour-long television program in February 2020, hosted by Reid himself. The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America will expand on Reid's piece—as well as the entire series—and chronicle the shameful history of the treatment of Black players in the NFL and the breakout careers of a thrilling new generation of Black quarterbacks. Intimate portraits of Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray feature prominently in the book, as well as the careers and legacy of beloved NFL players such as Doug Williams and trailblazing pioneers Marlin Briscoe and Eldridge Dickey. Reid delves deeply into the culture war ignited by Kaepernick's peaceful protest that shone a light on systemic oppression and police brutality. Fascinating and timely, this page-turning account will rivet fans of sports, cultural commentary, and Black history in America.

My Thoughts: 
You all know how much I love football. Every year, at the start of the season, I vow to myself that I'll read a book about it. I mean, I already own a couple, so it shouldn't have taken TLC Book Tours offering one up to me for me to get around to it. But it did. And then I missed my review date. <Insert emoji of shaking head> 

Fritz Pollard one of the first black players and became the first black coach of a professional football team; two years later, he became the first black quarterback. It took sixty-eight years for their to be another black coach. 

Pollard is only one of the black pioneers in professional football who Reid profiles. He also touches on George Taliaferro and Marlin Briscoe, who was pulled in as quarterback in 1968 when the Denver Bronco's quarterback was injured. He started five games and did well...then was let go at the end of the season. 

Reid also profiles black quarterbacks from historically black colleges including James Harris and Doug Williams who both went on to have illustrious careers in the NFL. Williams was the first black quarterback to start in a Super Bowl game. 

Reid moves on to look at today's group of superstar black quarterbacks, including Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson, four of the best currently playing. Even so, there remains a paucity of black quarterbacks in a league with 32 teams, especially when you take into account the percentage of black players, overall, in the NFL. Those that play still face racism, both overt and more subtle. Reid says that the unwillingness of teams to hire black quarterbacks sends a message that black men are not as intelligent, not inspiring, or not good leaders. 

Reid is a good writer (he is after all, a professional sports writer) and gives a good overall accounting of what it has taken to get to the point where the young black quarterbacks can get the respect...and money...they deserve (well, insofar as any player deserves the amount of money NFL players make). It's a good read, especially this time of year, and a fine lead in to looking deeper into the racist history of my favorite sport. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour (and my deep apologies for not getting this posted on time!). 

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