I do not agree with Rashard Mendenhall, entirely. In my humble opinion, people of all races and ethnicities talk entirely too spicy about professional athletes. No professional is above criticism just because the critic is not one. However, regardless of whether someone can dunk at an open gym or begins to pant while walking three blocks from a parking spot, that person should discuss pro athletes without venomous language.
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As for the rest of Mendenhall’s post on Xwitter, there are plenty of outstanding white athletes in the world. The NFL is loaded with white pass rushers and the two best offensive players in the NBA were born and raised in eastern Europe. White people can ball too.
An all-white team of NFL players would struggle against an all-Black squad only because there are far fewer white players in the league. Some people would use that fact to make the argument that Black people are better athletes than white people. My counter to that is society expects Black people to be the best on gridiron and hardwood, so talented white athletes might be dissuaded from pursuing football and basketball at an early age.
Even those who do make it to college and possibly the pros, coaches and player personnel have an already formed idea on what white athletes do best. A Black vs. white NFL matchup might reveal that some players have been pigeonholed into certain roles. I find it hard to believe that only one white person on earth is a capable NFL cornerback.
There were literally no white cornerbacks on NFL rosters from 2003-2021. Troy Apeke played five seasons for the Washington franchise. His fourth was 2021, when they finally listed him as a cornerback. He is no longer in the NFL.
In the third round of the 2023 draft the Denver Broncos selected cornerback Riley Moss out of Iowa. He is 6-foot-1, with a 39-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.45 40-yard-dash. Moss missed most of training camp after undergoing core muscle surgery in early August. He did not take the field until Week 3 and is mostly playing special teams.
Harrison Smith is the most accomplished white defensive back in the NFL. He was named first-team All Pro at free safety in 2017. While in high school, he was the 2006 Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee as defensive back and running back. However, when he got to Notre Dame, he first saw the field as a linebacker.
In Mendenhall’s proposed game, the all-white team is going to have come up with three cornerbacks. Maybe people would find out that the Eagles’ defensive backfield problems could be solved if Reed Blakenship was given the opportunity to play corner. During his high school years in Alabama, he was a two-time all-state football player who amassed 1,000-plus career yards rushing, receiving and passing.
I don’t know with any certainty if the white safeties of the NFL, alongside Moss, could hang with the wide receivers on the all-Black team. The main reason for that is coaches never gave those players a chance.
Hopefully I’ll get to see Moss square up against Justin Jefferson at some point in their careers. But until that day comes, all I can do is ponder the game that Mendenhall proposed. A game that will never happen because no Pro Bowl-level NFL player is taking a tackle football game seriously that is not a playoff or regular-season contest. Also, putting people in the stands for a Black vs. white football game is a recipe for disaster. Tension between the races in America is a bit thick these days. One wisecrack about Tyler Perry, regardless of which side said it, and the Malice at the Palace would arrive at that stadium.
For those who want to see a team of Black NFL players take on a white one, they had better buy Madden and make up the rosters themselves. We will never see that game, including that all-white defensive backfield. For all we know, that group of safeties, and Moss, might give a lock-down effort. If that happened, white people would then learn a common Black saying: It be your own people sometimes.