|White running backs are getting a lot love in the SportsNation vote for the Madden video game cover|
We already know that the National Basketball Association (NBA) went all in on the thug game. Short-term monetary success was followed by long-term desertion by the white fan base, putting the league in financial jeopardy.
Michael Vick and Dez Bryant represent the direction the National Football League (NFL) is headed. In an ESPN poll conducted to celebrate Black History Month, a huge disconnect emerged over how Black and white football fans view Vick:
African-American sports fans who took part in the online survey also indicated the media had been biased in its treatment of black athletes. By a margin of 57 percent to 7 percent, the African-Americans surveyed say the media unfairly criticizes black athletes more than white athletes, while the white fans suggest there is no difference in the media's handling of various cases.That same survey showed that sports fans view collegiate and professional athletics as highly progressive, i.e., an opportunity for positive examples of Black people to emerge where every other segment of society fails to produce them.
Of black sports fans surveyed, 65 percent say they admire Vick, compared with just 25 percent of the white fans.
What will be said next is no conspiracy theory: Toby Gerhart showed us in the 2010 NFL Draft that white running backs (and by extension, white athletes who play wide receiver, safety and other positions reserved for Black players) are discriminated against.
Enter Peyton Hillis, a white running back who in 2008 showed he could be a star in the league for the Denver Broncos. Riding the bench in 2009 for that same team, Hillis was traded to Cleveland, where he infuriated Black defenses around the league by running through and around them.
In one season, Hillis showed that the decision by the NFL (and college scouts) to discriminate against white athletes was the wrong one to make. He exposed the caste system for all the world to see.
Though the NFL has gone all-in (like the NBA before them) on the Black athlete -- see the hilarious story of Warren Moon's Black reactionary attack on those who criticize the smug Cam Newton, completely disregarding the vicious assaults on Tim Tebow before last year's draft -- it seems white fans aren't going along with that message.
For some reason, the makers of the immensely popular John Madden NFL video game franchise allowed fans to pick the NFL athlete who would grace the 2011 cover. Before we tell you how the vote came down, a quick word on just how popular the franchise has become:
You can measure the impact of "Madden" through its sales: as many as 2 million copies in a single week, 85 million copies since the game's inception and more than $3 billion in total revenue. You can chart the game's ascent, shoulder to shoulder, alongside the $20 billion-a-year video game industry, which is either co-opting Hollywood (see "Tomb Raider" and "Prince of Persia") or topping it (opening-week gross of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2": $550 million; "The Dark Knight": $204 million).Care to guess who the final vote is coming down too? Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis. Another white running back, Danny Woodhead of New England, made the final eight. It won't be announced until tomorrow, but Hillis is beating white Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, making a final vote between the former dog fighting champion Vick and the discriminated against Hillis a likely match-up:
You can witness the cultural power of "Madden": grown men lining up outside Walmarts for the game's annual midnight release; rock bands, such as Good Charlotte, going mainstream via inclusion on the "Madden" soundtrack; a pokerlike underground circuit of cash tournaments; the black-cat mojo of the "Madden" cover curse superseding the Sports Illustrated cover jinx; Madden himself being recognized less for his Hall of Fame coaching and broadcasting career than for a game that beat him into Canton.
Rodgers was trailing Hillis 56% to 44% in the Madden NFL '12 cover-vote semifinal heading into April 12th, 2011. Rodgers featured decisive victories against Ndamukong Suh(notes) (72% to 28%) and Sam Bradford(notes) (76% to 24%) before a competitive third-round victory against Danny Woodhead(notes) (56% to 44%). Hillis secured victories against Ray Rice(notes) (62% to 38%), Matt Ryan(notes) (51% to 49%), and Jamaal Charles(notes) (60% to 40%).
When I viewed the tournament bracket in March, I thought EA Sports was making a deliberate attempt to make Rodgers's bracket an automatic bid to reach the finals. I'd reckon that EA wasn't anticipating the positive response that the Caucasian tailbacks have received.That the NBA faces financial problems and the NFL does not is because the latter has white players that the predominately white fan base can cheer for and relate to. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Brian Urlacher, Clay Matthews, Matt Ryan and a host of other white athletes are household names whereas the NBA is unable to provide the same amount of white players for the fan base to cheer for (the NFL is 31 percent white compared to the NBA at 19 percent).
Statistically and from a career achievements standpoint, Woodhead was one of the weakest candidates. Woodhead is a situational running back for the New England Patriots. He accumulated 547 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 97 attempts in his first season of significant action. Woodhead also had 34 receptions for 379 yards and one touchdown.
As previously mentioned, Rodgers barely beat Woodhead. Hillis poses an even greater obstacle because he has a more established resume and Browns loyalists. Hillis rushed for 1,173 yards and 11 touchdowns on 270 carries in 2011. He also caught 61 passes for 477 yards. Hillis was the first white running back to eclipse 1,000 yards since Craig James of the 1985 New England Patriots. Hillis was the heart of a team that was transitioning into the Colt McCoy(notes) era.
The emergence of white running backs like Hillis and Woodhead has shown that, yes, white guys can run the ball too. It's just that they have been denied that opportunity by a caste system that moves whites to fullback or away from the tailback position. Larrybrownsports.com reports:
What we’re talking about now is the undeniable truth that Peyton Hillis is extremely popular because he is a rarity: a white superstar running back. Being a white back has hurt Hillis in the past because he was discriminated against, but now that he’s received an opportunity to be a featured back, he’s proven he can succeed, and he’s become a national fan favorite as a result.
10 running backs outrushed Hillis last season. Steven Jackson, Michael Turner, and Adrian Peterson all run as hard and with as much of a punishing style as he does. Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson, and Ray Rice have shown more spectacular moves and shiftiness in their rushing.If Peyton Hillis defeats Vick to be on the cover of the 2011 Madden game, and if the NFL Lockout ends, one can expect the almost entirely-Black defenses Hillis faces to be gunning for him, trying to deny him a second-straight 1,000 yard rushing season.
All three were eliminated in the first two rounds, all three are black.
That's the burden a white superstar athlete faces (remember what "Pistol" Pete Maravich faced playing in the all-Black NBA of the 1970s). A lot of great white hope athletes exist, but they rarely get recruited by major colleges to play running back or receiver. White guys can't run, right?
Just ask Brock Forsey about that truth.
Michael Vick vs. Peyton Hillis for the cover of the 2011 Madden NFL video game. It's a well-known fact that the Madden NFL game is one of the only video games Black people play, and having a white running back grace the cover could be absolutely hilarious.
The NFL and NCAA have long tried to keep white athletes from running with the football at the tailback position; judging by how white sports fans voted for both Woodhead and Hillis in the Madden contest, that seems to be something they want too see.
Michael Vick or Peyton Hillis. The National Football League has decided it wants to have a sport dominated by players like Vick. Going all-in on Black athletes and the "thug" game doomed the NBA and drove away white sports fans.
The NFL discriminates against white players. If it were a true meritocracy, it would undoubtedly have more players like Hillis.
But because of the caste system, guys like Vick and Dez Bryant are promoted over white athletes.
We hope that Hillis lands the cover of the game. Vote here.
We recommend telling all of your friends on Twitter, FaceBook, Digg, and on forums to vote for Hillis as well.
And be sure to tell them SBPDL sent you.
One day soon, the NBA will be looking for its version of a Peyton Hillis. Hockey, Nascar, swimming and tennis will still be looking for its Tiger Woods.