NFL Teams (And Sports Journalists) Discriminating Against White Players
When I was in college in the late
1970s, I had a friend who was blind—and also a fanatic
football fan. At parties, he`d challenge anyone to
name any National Football League game played in the
last 20 years and he`d tell them the score.
Once he rang my doorbell early to
ask if he could borrow the sports section.
Intrigued by what a blind man would
do with a newspaper, I followed him. I found that he
owned a state of the art (for the 1970s) optical scanner
that converted printed text into Braille, one letter at
a time. He could then feel it with his index finger.
I sometimes wonder what it must be
like to be a blind football fan today and have to rely
on sportswriters rather than
your own eyes.
You`d probably assume, from
scanning hundreds of
impassioned columns over the years, that the only
racial imbalance at any position in the history of the
NFL has been at
quarterback, where blacks had been grievously
discriminated against until very recently.
You would almost certainly have
never read that, at the second most glamorous position,
tailback (the main ball carrier), none of the
64 starters and second-teamers was white at the
start of the 2004 season.
Similarly, you`d never hear that
not one of the
64 starting cornerbacks in the NFL is white.
Why do sportswriters almost never
mention what everybody can see with their own eyes?
My theory: sportswriters suffer
from an inferiority complex. They worry that
hard news journalists snicker at them for spending
their days hanging around locker rooms, trying to
extract usable quotes from men with
necks thicker than their heads.
Hence sportswriters tend to be the
most fervent exponents of the Mainstream Media`s liberal
Back in the 1970s, the
sportswriters drove out of town
George Allen, the Hall of Fame coach of the
Washington Redskins (and father of Senator George Allen
Jr. (R-Va), the potential 2008 Presidential candidate),
reminded them of
Richard Nixon. Vanquishing him made the
sportswriters feel like
Today, sportswriters fear that the
patterns of profound racial inequality so visible every
weekend on televised sports offend the MSM`s
They feel they have to be the
purest of the pure in what they dare to acknowledge.
As a realist about racial
differences, I`m not surprised that there is a big
disparity in racial representation at tailback and
cornerback. At peak condition, young black men tend to
lower body fat percentages than young white men.
And, in most sports, the muscle to fat ratio is a key
Similarly, in the animal kingdom,
creatures built for speed, such as horses and deer, have
extremely tapered legs with the big muscles that move
the legs kept up high in the main part of the body. In
contrast, elephants have untapered legs, which is one
reason they much don`t like running.
But are the physical differences so
large that they can account for all of the huge
racial differences in the NFL?
I`m increasingly doubtful. Without
coaches stereotyping players into predefined positions,
tailback or cornerback might be 90 or 95 percent black.
But 99+ percent seems too high.
It`s crucial to keep in mind that
distributed according to
bell curves. There are always overlaps between the
races on any
functional characteristic. Whites average about 15
points higher on IQ than blacks, but the top scoring six
million African-Americans have higher IQs than the
bottom scoring 100 million whites.
Thus, for example, the new
Bobby Satcher, who was previously a surgeon at
prestigious Northwestern Memorial Hospital and has both
medical degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. in chemical
engineering from MIT, is a black man who no doubt has a
higher IQ than all but a small number of whites.
But where are the white Bobby
Satchers of football?
For years, J.D. Cash`s website
Caste Football has argued, perhaps excessively at
times, that both the NFL and big time college football
discriminate against whites, slotting them into certain
positions and not giving them a chance to prove
themselves in “black” positions.
For example, perhaps the most
extraordinary athlete in college football last year was
U. of Arkansas quarterback
Matt Jones—an excellent running quarterback (6.6
yards per carry in his college career) and a decent
passer (55 touchdowns versus 30 interceptions). At the
NFL draft "combine" workout, Jones, who is 6`6"
and about 230 pounds, turned in a spectacular time in
the 40-yard dash of
4.37 seconds, comparable to the legendary Atlanta
Falcon running quarterback Michael Vick`s
best-documented time of
4.36. Jones` vertical leap of 39.5 inches was also
impressive. (He started on the Arkansas basketball
In recent years, the NFL has been
snapping up running quarterbacks and hoping that they
eventually mature into excellent passers (such as
Donovan McNabb finally has become, but
Michael Vick hasn`t yet). So Jones might have seemed
like a natural.
There was a problem, though: unlike
all the recent running quarterbacks, Jones is white.
Jones was perfectly willing to
switch to wide receiver, but that raised another
difficulty: that`s a stereotypically black position too.
So, many teams wanted Jones to beef up so he could play
tight end, an unglamorous blocking position where many
whites are stashed.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN
know, it`s funny," one AFC head coach told me last week.
"We asked [Jones] about putting on some weight
and playing tight end, and he made it clear that he
thought it was foolish. He said, `So you want me to put
on 20 pounds and be a 4.57 guy instead of a 4.37 guy?`
When you put that into context, you have to admit he
Anecdotal evidence like this is
interesting. But of course data is better.
However, there are so few white
players at some positions in the NFL that you can`t get
a statistically significant sample.
Still, it`s possible to correlate
the overall number of white players on an NFL team
versus the number of games it wins during a 16 game
A professor of sociology (who
wishes to remain anonymous because researching the
discrimination against whites is the shortest path
to career death in academia) has crunched the latest
three seasons` numbers for me.
He found positive but low
correlations. Teams with more whites did better. This
suggests that all teams would do slightly better with
However, when we looked at the data
in more detail, we saw that there isn`t much correlation
between winning percentage and the number of white
starters—suggesting that teams aren`t terribly
irrationally biased about evaluating the top
But when we looked at
nonstarters, a more striking pattern emerges. In
2003, the correlation between the number of whites
sitting on the bench and the number of wins was a
surprisingly high r = 0.38.
In the social sciences, the
convention is that 0.2 = low correlation, 0.4 = medium,
and 0.6 = high. So, 0.38 is just under "medium."
A correlation of 0.38 says that 14% (0.38 squared) of
the variation in winning percentage in the 2003 season
was associated with the number of white reserves.
That`s a remarkably large
percentage in something as overwhelmingly complicated as
winning in the NFL.
To put that in a perspective that
coaches would immediately grasp, that means that 2.2
additional white benchwarmers were associated with one
additional win per team, thus changing an average 8-8
team into a possibly playoff contending 9-7 team.
In 2004, the positive correlation
between white benchwarmers and winning percentage was
down to a less spectacular r = 0.19. But that still
means that having five additional white players on the
bench is associated with an additional victory.
In 2005, through October 9th`s
games, the correlation was back up to r = 0.28. At that
rate, over the course of a 16 game season, 2.9 extra
white nonstarters would add one win.
Why would having more white
nonstarters help a team? Caste Football`s J.D. Cash has
suggested that perhaps white utility players are
more likely to master the playbooks for multiple
positions (as suggested by their
higher average IQ scores on the
Wonderlic test mandated by the NFL).
Or, possibly, the reason that teams
with a higher number of white reserves have been winning
more games is because whites are better team players
about sitting on the bench without complaining about not
starting. Perhaps white back-ups are less likely than
black back-ups to
poison the atmosphere and ruin the
After all, our society for the last
40 years has lavishly encouraged blacks to claim to be
victims of injustice, so it would hardly be surprising
pampered egotistical athletes, whites might tend to
more likely than blacks to keep quiet for the good
of the team when they feel they are being treated
Whatever the reason for this
pattern, this quick study, while not definitive, is
important news—both to team officials in charge of
player personnel choices and also to anyone who likes to
bet on football games.
It would pay to extend the study
over more years to see if it represents a long-term
pattern, and to go into more depth to find the reasons
for this apparent market failure.
So what are the chances that the
sports media will pick up and run with this story about
discrimination against whites in the NFL?
My estimate, based on past
experience: somewhere in the range from zero to negative
Two years ago, I showed in my UPI
Hidden Ethnic Bias" that baseball teams had
long been irrationally discriminating against American
players, white and black, in favor of more
Caribbean players weren`t actually quite as good as
their gaudy batting averages suggested, because they had
poorer average on-base percentages than American-born
Hooray (not for the first time) for
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and