GMIM: White NFL cornerbacks

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White sports writer writes story on white cornerbacks’ struggles as minorities in NFL…huh?

Last week, Sports Illustrated posted an article on the lack of white cornerbacks in the NFL. It doesn’t take a doctor to figure out the number of white guys playing cornerback ranges from extremely low to none existent, yet SI felt compelled to write a 5,000 word feature story on the few guys who have other the past several decades.

This piece, written by white guy Michael McKnight, is filled with some A+ head-scratching quotes. It starts by introducing Donny Lisowski, former NFL corner and Caucasian person, in Seahawks training camp making plays and getting hype and love from fellow corner Richard Sherman, who is not white.

Born and raised in Seattle, the 28-year-old Lisowski will always remember the summer of 2012, when he had the Seahawks’ practice facility buzzing. He wore the same surging bird decal on his helmet that Marshawn Lynch wore on his. He lined up for DB drills behind his favorite player growing up, Marcus Trufant. He earned the respect of Carroll and his assistants, men he said were first-class in all of their communications with him. But as those summer days turned into months—then years—of solo workouts and precisely zero phone calls from other NFL teams, Lisowski couldn’t help but wonder whether there had been an invisible force at play in his career.

All 64 starting cornerbacks in the NFL are black. So are their backups. One hundred-sixty black cornerbacks, give or take. Not a single white one. It’s been this way for more than 10 years.

Later in this piece, McKnight asks Richard Sherman about Lisowski’s brief period with the Seahawks:

“I loved Donny as a player and a teammate,” Sherman, now a four-time Pro Bowler, says of Lisowski’s short stint with Seattle. “But in the end I think it was just a matter of [the Seahawks] preferring taller corners.”

The article moves along to highlight Jason Sehorn, former Giants white man corner who last played at the position in 2002.

“I wore sleeves for a reason,” he says. “Rarely will you find a photo of me in the NFL without long sleeves. I just didn’t want it to matter. To me, this whole [white cornerback] thing was never a race issue. I’ve always seen it as a cultural issue and a confidence issue. And that goes back to how I was raised.”

So let’s get this straight: Sehorn didn’t see being a white corner as a race issue or anything, but says he “wore sleeves for a reason?” Which one is it, Jason?

Hundreds of words later, we are reminded of Kevin Kaesviharn, former Cincinnati Bengal.

Like Sehorn, Kevin Kaesviharn (pronounced KASE-varn) wore dark sleeves during many of the games he started at corner for the Bengals from 2001 through ’03, but he wore his because black is one of Cincinnati’s colors and because he played in the NFL’s coldest division.

McKnight does this incredible job of pointing out Kaesviharn wearing sleeves just like Sehorn, dark sleeves mind you, but it was only because it was the team’s color and it was cold. Just a massive stretch for McKnight to compare the two as if Kaesviharn did it for race reasons. What’s comical is the picture included in the article…


Let’s take a closer look, folks…


Yup, no sleeves. That is a white man’s bare arm.

Kaesviharn would give his reaction to being moved to safety after a short stint at corner:

“It’s a touchy subject,” Kaesviharn says of his move that season to safety, where he got his last 47 NFL starts. “That’s just the way it was. Are there reasons it was that way with me? Yeah. Am I gonna stand up and say it was discrimination? I wouldn’t take it that far. But to prove that there wasn’t discrimination—I mean, you can’t really do it.” Asked if he ever felt he had to be twice as good as other corners just to keep his job, Kaesviharn pauses. “I haven’t thought about all of this for a long time…”

Brian Davis, former Washington cornerback of the 80’s, was highlighted for a certain achievement later in the article:

That day, as Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, Davis became the last white cornerback to do so.

A remarkable achievement, folks.

Going back to Sherman, his Stanford teammate Mark Mueller is described by the author as the “bleached Richard Sherman clone.” The article spends time comparing the two and their physic, and pretty much making the argument that Mueller was a similar, or perhaps a better athlete in college. This analysis stirs the race pot, only to have Mueller say, “Sherm was a lot hungrier to get to the NFL than I was.” So no, if he was a clone, he’d be dominating the NFL.

To wrap up the article, McKnight highlights a few players who make the cornerback position cool and flashy and ends the piece with an all-timer:

Any kid out there who’s pulling on a pair of Sherman’s Iversonesque forearm sheaths to start the revolution might want to know that, for road games, Sherman prefers his sleeves white.

Articles like this drive me absolutely insane and they will keep coming, too. Back in October, ESPN’s The Undefeated had a MASSIVE piece on the NBA and the lack of white American players. Don’t be surprised when Sporting News releases an article on white American players in the NHL fading in numbers and not getting an equal shot.

I don’t need a reporter telling me there aren’t many white cornerbacks, the same way I’m fully aware most punters, kickers, and quarterbacks in the NFL are white.

Numbers don’t lie when it comes to the makeup of each sports league. One race might be more prevalent in one league, but nearly nonexistent in another. But to have giant articles is a joke. What’s the angle of this, to have the reader feel bad for the “oppressed” white cornerback? It’s laughable honestly, especially when these guys most likely won’t face any discrimination off the football field (the simple term is white privilege).

As we’re all aware, sports have not been immune to racial discrimination throughout American history. It took Willie O’Ree’s debut with the Boston Bruins in 1957 to break the NHL’s color barrier. Hell, baseball had separate leagues based on skin tone, with the Negro American League operating through 19-freaking-51, four years after Jackie Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

And to relate to Michael McKnight’s article, here is a quote from a Washington Post story on Kenny Washington helping break down racial barriers in the NFL:

When the NFL started, in the 1920s, a handful of African-Americans played in the new league. But from 1934 to 1946, there were no black players in the NFL. There wasn’t an official rule against them, but there was an unwritten understanding among the teams. The teams would not allow African Americans into the league.

So for any writer who types up an article that tries to paint white professional athletes as suppressed, I say grow up. The reason we haven’t don’t remember the names Lisowski or Kaesviharn is not because they aspired to be white cornerbacks, but because they were not good football players. So in a league with 24 white head coaches, 26 white general managers, and 31 white owners, there is no such thing as discrimination against white athletes.

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