The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Ex-NFL Player: ‘Average White Guys’ Shouldn’t Be Talking About Football

Posted on | December 24, 2023 | Comments Off on Ex-NFL Player: ‘Average White Guys’ Shouldn’t Be Talking About Football

Rashard Mendenhall kicked a hornet’s nest this week, and even after getting ratio’d into oblivion, refused to apologize:

Let us stipulate that we don’t know what set him off. Something must have provoked him to say these offensive things, and his willingness to maintain his defense suggests that either (a) the provocation was great, or (b) Mendenhall has been getting tired of hearing “average white guys” for a long time. Because I don’t know what the background might be, I would not participate in a rush to jump on this particular dogpile. What is to be gained by joining an online lynch mob? Besides which, I dislike the tendency of some of my fellow conservatives to point the finger and say, “See? Black people are racist, too!” The far better approach to such issues, I contend, is to attack the fundamental premise of the syllogism, i.e., the liberal assumption that “racism” is the universal explanation of every problem afflicting black people. Call me a “racist,” and my response is likely to be, “So?” What does that have to do with anything? Even if it were true that I harbored some opinion which you might describe as “racist,” how is anyone — black, brown, whatever — actually harmed by my mere opinion? Spurious accusations of racism — “RAAAAACISM!” — are generally motivated by politics, representing an attempt to gain some advantage by discrediting one’s opponents, a character assassination that is logically invalid as argument and irrelevant in terms of explaining the problems of black America. But I have digressed far enough . . .

Rashard Mendenhall asserts that he is better than “ur goat,” G.O.A.T. being an acronym for Greatest of All Time, but this is self-evidently false. I’m guessing Mendenhall, as a former Pittsburgh Steeler, might be thinking of Rocky Bleier and I’m sorry, no, sir, you’re not better than him, at least in terms of pure courage. Whether or not Bleier was ever the “greatest” in terms of speed, the simple fact that he made it to the NFL — and won four Super Bowls with the Steelers — after being blasted by a hand grenade in Vietnam is ample testimony to his character.

So if Mendenhall was provoked by some old Pittsburgh fan’s nostalgic remembrance of Rocky Bleier as the G.O.A.T., maybe the best response would have been to bite his tongue. But I actually don’t think that’s what set him off. No, I think it more likely that Mendenhall’s resentment was provoked by the praise being heaped on San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, a white guy who’s a lot better than “average.”

Since being acquired from the Carolina Panthers in a mid-season trade last year, McCaffrey has become the driving force of San Francisco’s offense, and is arguably the reason the 49ers are now 11-3, with the best record in the NFC and the odds-on favorite for the Super Bowl.

McCaffrey has rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and added more than 500 yards catching passes, with a total of 20 touchdowns, and these statistics don’t really do justice to the decisive nature of McCaffrey’s contributions. Whether it’s making crucial third-down conversions, or just enabling the Niners to play the kind of ball-control offense that helps keep their defense rested, it’s hard to imagine San Francisco being the conference leader without him. And yes, he’s white, in an era where it’s rather rare to see white players as running backs, let alone the kind of franchise star McCaffrey has become in San Francisco.

If there’s any secret to McCaffrey’s success, it’s good breeding. His father, Ed McCaffrey, spent 13 NFL seasons as a wide receiver, including three consecutive 1,000-yard-plus seasons (1998-2000) with the Denver Broncos. Athleticism comes from both sides of the family, however, as Christian McCaffrey’s mother was a soccer star at Stanford, and her father was an Olympic sprinter. Coming from a family with a tradition of athletic success, Christian McCaffrey’s NFL career is less surprising than it might otherwise appear in an era where it is not controversial to assume that only black players can be star running backs.

And, hate to break it to you, Rashard Mendenhall, but Christian McCaffrey is better than you ever were. In your best NFL season, you rushed for 1,273 yards and 13 TDs, which is less than McCaffrey’s got this year. So if you’re ranting about “average white guys” because you’re tired of hearing TV commentators praise McCaffrey’s ability, that’s too bad — he deserves the praise, and your complaints are unseemly.

By the way, permit me to suggest reading Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We’re Afraid To Talk About It by Jon Entine, a careful examination of the subject. The crucial point is that we’re talking about tail-end-of-the-bell-curve phenomena, which is less about average group differences than about what happens in competition between a comparative handful of elite athletes. It is unfortunate that a dogmatic commitment to intellectual abstractions about equality tends to make many people reluctant to acknowledge actual differences between racial or ethnic groups, as if such an acknowledgement would automatically lead to resurrecting Jim Crow or Nazi Germany.

There is no reason why all of us — including “average white guys” — can’t get along peacefully, without resorting to censorship and quotas and endless protests about “injustice.” Just get used to the idea that (a) everybody’s racist and (b) so what? The rest of it is then a lot easier.



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