An open letter to Donovan McNabb

By Kevin Spitz

Dear Mr. McNabb,

Let me start off by saying I am a big fan. You are a great quarterback, an even greater Madden quarterback, and the soup you and your mom endorse is delicious. So it is with the utmost respect for you that I take issue with the comments you made on “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

On the show, you were asked whether white quarterbacks like Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning are held to the same standards as you. You replied: “Let me start by saying, I love those guys. But they don’t get criticized as much as we do. They don’t.”

Of course by “we” you were referring to all black quarterbacks.

Now, if you tell me that you feel that you personally are treated differently than other quarterbacks, I think you have a point. In 2003 after the Eagles began 0-2, Rush Limbaugh, who was then working for ESPN on “Sunday NFL Countdown” said, “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media have been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” To go along with that, a leader in the Philadelphia NAACP complained that you were becoming too much of a pocket passer.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    So it seems to me that you have had to deal with some things that others do not have to worry about. But at the same time, you aren’t a spokesman for all black quarterbacks, and you really have no way to know if they are treated any better or worse than those of a different race. You have a contract worth $115 million, and at one point you were the highest paid player in the NFL. So maybe the pressure on you is not so much skin color as the number of zeroes in your contract?

    In fact, Mr. McNabb, when black quarterback Vince Young was asked whether he was treated differently for his skin color, he said, “I really feel like myself; black or white quarterbacks, we all go through something because that is the life of a quarterback. You have to be able to handle all the pressure and you have to be able to handle the losses and you have to be able to handle the media saying this about you. … If you can’t handle it, then you have to get off that position and go play something else.”

    I think a lot of the bias you feel, Mr. McNabb, may come from who you are and where you play. You are (or at least, were before you got injured) one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league. You led your team to four straight NFC Championship Games. Maybe part of the reason for your scrutiny is your stardom.

    Also, from what I hear, Philadelphia is not known for being the nicest to its players. Now, that is of no fault to you whatsoever, but I think that if you were to find a new home, you’d see that you would be loved just because of who you are and not the color of your skin. Take Chicago, for instance. Donovan, if you donned a Bears jersey, the entire city would love you, and not one person would question that you’d be the best Bears quarterback not named Jim since Sid Luckman.

    The fact of the matter, Mr. McNabb, is that I do believe that you may be criticized more than other quarterbacks, but when your contract is worth more than $100 million, your play on the field deserves to be scrutinized.

    I think we can agree that what has been going on in Louisiana with the Jena Six is true racism that should not be tolerated, and excuse me if I feel the comments you made were falsely generalizing an issue.

    Good game last week.

    Yours truly,

    Kevin M. Spitz

    P.S. Your Madden character has been beating me for 9 years, but that’s what I get when I play as the Buffalo Bills.

    Kevin Spitz is a senior in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected].