The Plight of the Black Quarterback


Courtesy of Steve Palazzolo

“With the eleventh pick of the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State.” Those words boomed from TVs around the nation as millions tuned into the draft a month ago. On that night, the Bears chose that man to be the face of their franchise. The six-foot three-inch Ohio State product has been producing since he first set foot on a football field. He crushed Clemson, the supposed best college team in the country. He had a monster performance at his pro day, where he flashed his physical ability in front of scouts from across professional football, running a 40-yard dash in just 4.44 seconds. This puts him ahead of notable QBs Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, and Cam Newton, who are all known for their quickness and mobility. He did everything that was asked of him on the field, while also conducting himself with honor and humility when off the field. Regardless, there were doubters:


“He’s really up and down with his ability to process information.”

“He plays hero ball too much.”

“Can you coach this stuff out of him?”

“He doesn’t want this hard enough.”

“There are some questions with his character” 


Within weeks of his declaration for the draft, as these comments by analysts rolled out, Justin Fields’ draft stock plummeted. Instead of being the number two overall QB on analysts rankings, he dropped down to fifth. These “arguments” made by analysts devalued him instantly and were never once backed up with anecdotal evidence from coaches, teammates, or anyone close to Fields. This was especially true for the argument about his character. Nothing has ever come upon his record in school or in the greater community. Nevertheless, he was deemed less valuable than QBs like Mac Jones, who not only lacked the physical strength when compared to Fields but has already been arrested under charges of DUI.

Unfortunately, this kind of discrediting is common for young black quarterbacks. In 2018, Lamar Jackson fell to the last pick in the first round of the draft. He was constantly told to not even apply as a quarterback, that he should instead be a receiver. A year later, he was breaking rushing records, won the league MVP, and helped shape the league into what it is today, one that is beginning to value mobility. Quarterback Russell Wilson was also undervalued, having to wait until the 3rd round to be selected. Now, he’s become one of the most well-known football players of our time. Even as far back as 1978, black quarterback Warren Moon was forced to play in Canada to prove himself and later went on to become an NFL Hall of Famer.

The plight of the black quarterback did not begin recently and isn’t some archaic form of racism that disappeared decades ago. It’s still here. Many people just listen to the analysts without questioning their “facts” that keep perpetuating this stereotype. As ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, who has spoken publicly about the issue, says, “When it comes to the black quarterback, NFL folks seem to find reasons to depreciate their value, rather than appreciating it.”

It’s been a tough road for Justin Fields already, and it will not get any easier on the big stage. The Bears believe in him, and I believe in him.

Godspeed Justin Fields. Make us proud.