Inside Preps: Today, They're All Just QBs
Wed. November 14, 2012 at 11:54 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
This is a story that really isn't a story.
It's about African-American quarterbacks. Or, as they are pretty much called now, quarterbacks.
(Bear with me. Keep reading.)
About two weeks ago, I read an article by USA Today's Robert Klemko previewing the meeting between Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, NFL quarterbacks who are, you guessed it, African-American.
Klemko talked to Bobby Mitchell, who joined Washington as a running back in 1962, about how much the landscape has changed since his playing days, and Mitchell said he could remember when teams back then only had one or two black players total.
This year in the NFL, five teams are led at the quarterback position by African-Americans: Griffin (Washington), Newton (Carolina), Michael Vick (Philadelphia), Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay) and Russell Wilson (Seattle).
Is it significant?
But it's not new anymore.
Maybe as recently as a decade ago, maybe even less than that, it was different.
Black quarterbacks were seen as something new, something revolutionary.
The reasons why?
Now it seems normal. Hence, this being a story that, thankfully, really isn't a story.
And even though the topic is going to be talked about for a long time to come, I think, we're seeing a shift underneath the professional level where kids are being given a shot to compete for that spot no matter the color.
The interesting thing in high school football, in Polk County at least, is that it seems like coaches are putting the best players in that position.
"I think years ago, kids were pigeon-holed because of their race," said one high school coach in the area who preferred not to be named.
Understandable, since race is always a sensitive topic.
"You hardly ever saw a black athlete at the quarterback position when I played, but if a quarterback moves the football these days and leads your team he's going to be given the chance to play. I don't care if he's white, Puerto Rican, black, it doesn't matter."
That coach played 10 years prior to Eric Gallon, a three-year starter at the quarterback spot for Kathleen in the mid- to late 80s who is currently the head coach at George Jenkins.
"When I played, it wasn't a big issue," Gallon said.
"Haines City had a black quarterback, and so did Lakeland and Lake Gibson. It wasn't unconventional."
It isn't now, either.
Eleven of at least 22 schools in the county have black quarterbacks at the helm, including A'Treyu Farrior at Kathleen, Xavier Gaines at Frostproof, Railond Garrett at Lake Wales and Isaiah Walker at Lakeland.
But who's counting?
"It doesn't matter," Gallon said.
"For me, the best person for the job is going to play that position. "
The way it should be, right?
I think so and I'm betting a lot of people feel the same.