Does it “Hurt” to see Jalen as a Quarterback? The plight of Black College QB’s.

Alex Fleming

Editors Note: This week we are sharing an article from guest writer Alex Fleming // @AlxFlmng. He is a writer/reporter who resides in Orlando, Florida. Self employed, he created a radio show for Fantasy Football and to follow his dreams of connecting and working in the NFL.

It’s not his fault that he has athleticism. It’s not his fault that he has a 33 inch vertical. It’s not a sin to be fast on your feet in your profession. Though its understandable to wonder what one could truly do if they could broad jump 10 – 1/2 feet. At 6’1, 222 pounds, Jalen Hurts fits this mold.

At the 2020 NFL Combine, Hurts ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash. Arguably one of the fastest quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, he is also the most experienced. His freshmen year, he lost on the final play of the game to Deshaun Watson and Clemson. The next year, Kirby Smart and Georgia had a schemed game plan against him; considering that Kirby Smart was the former Defensive Coordinator of the Crimson Tide before accepting the head coaching position for Georgia.

But this story isn’t about analyzing Hurts’ draft stock (but I will). This is the continuing saga of Black quarterbacks and their skill set, being second-guessed, and minimized to fit the need at a position with less longevity. “Maybe running back suits you better Mr. Jackson.”   “Have you ever thought of being a wide receiver or tight end Mr. Newton?”  “Maybe you can come off of the bench and provide a spark, Mr. Wilson?”  Or, the best one yet, a rookie quarterback with major upside being compared to a gadget player such as Taysom Hill.


Although adversity has been a constant visitor in Hurts’ collegiate career, success has never been an issue. In 2016, as a freshman, he went 14-1. His one loss was the aforementioned game against Clemson for the National Championship. He completed 65.3 % of his passes and rushed for over 840 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season. 954 rush yards total and 36 touchdowns total counting bowl games.


As a sophomore in 2017 behind a dominant Alabama offensive and defensive line, he wasn’t asked to do much. His production dropped, but still managed to produce 2900 total yards of offense and 24 touchdowns. As a backup behind Tua Tangovailoa in 2018, he still managed to have 10 touchdowns (8 passing, 2 rushing). Plus, [he] carried none of the blame for Alabama losing another championship to Clemson.


In 2019, Hurts transferred to the University of Oklahoma. After the University had back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners, Jalen’s senior year was one to remember, but runner-up to Heisman worthy. Let’s disregard the 3,851 passing, and let’s choose to ignore the 1,298 rushing as well. Hurts was responsible for 52 touchdowns. If one were to compare his statistics to Lamar Jackson’s Heisman campaign of 2016, Lamar barely edges Hurts in total yardage, and Hurts produced 1 more touchdown.


Jalen Hurts career numbers reflect his versatility, his growth as a passer and his ability to find a way to win. As of now, Hurts is 682-1047 for attempts and completions with a 65.1 total completion percentage. A 4-1 touchdown to interception ratio with 80 TD’s to 20 interceptions for his collegiate career. Add a stack of 3,274 rushing yards with 43 touchdowns accounted for, and one could argue that draft prospects could easily sell to the media that he is one of the best quarterbacks available in this year’s draft class.


Unfortunately, in today’s current times, that’s not the case. Since January of 2020, speculation after the Senior Bowl where questions were pitched to Hurts that maybe he should consider “switching positions” because of his versatility. To the typical fan, it’s reasonable why this could make sense. However, to the black athlete and community, this was a dog whistle that has reared its ugly head yet again. We have heard this song and dance before.


It was there with Lamar Jackson and his “lack” of knowledge at playing the quarterback position.  It was present when Todd McShay stated that Blaine Gabbert of Mizzou, was a better quarterback than Cam Newton in 2011.  Questions of frailty and injury issues were up in the air in 2017, with Deshaun Watson. Mitchell Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes were selected ahead of him; 1 is justified. It’s not Trubisky.  In 2012, the 75th pick of the draft was highly scrutinized as a pick that would set the Seattle franchise in a motion backward. Russell Wilson, a 3rd round pick, was labeled a bust from Mel Kiper. “I think he’ll have a Seneca Wallace type career when you can bring him off the bench and he’ll add a spark.”


So why should we be surprised, when clearly the best quarterback on the Lucas Oil field on February 27th, doesn’t get the proper praise and is overshadowed by a quarterback who comes from a collegiate team with no history of NFL success? Joey Harrington, Marcus Mariota, Dan Fouts, the lists go on. Upon studying Justin Herbert’s quarterback combine, the 3rd stationed challenge was 20-yard post patterns. Herbert displayed good throws but revealed a slow progression in the pocket. His deep balls have an aroma of 50/50 to the next level of competition, and he displayed issues when initiating 20-yard outs from the opposite side of the field. Slow, but accurate windups on comeback routes, and rainbows on deep sideline throws.


Being blessed to be in the building while this exhibition took place grants me the analysis being shared compared to Jalen Hurts combine totality. Hurts not only was comfortable, but accurate. Yahoo sports went the opposite direction of ESPN, and gave a positive analysis of Jalen Hurts combine production. Understandably, ESPN has an agenda. It’s always best to promote your chosen candidate, whether that candidate has the potential to be toxic like Johnny Manziel, or when making a bold prediction in stating that Cam Newton would be a major risk, and a 1-year wonder; comparing Newton to an Akili Smith; and considered him to be one of the biggest risks in draft history.



It’s disrespectful, but nothing new. The history of the NFL has been ugly to the Black Quarterback. Don’t remember history? Obviously not, because we as a nation and society have consistently repeated these worn-out stereotypes of what it truly means to play the position.


Successful quarterbacks don’t run the football, unless you’re Josh Allen.  One can’t find success out of the pocket, unless of course, you’re Aaron Rodgers.  Maybe you’re just not good enough to play in the NFL.  And after breaking records in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos, Warren Moon spent the twilight of his career, lighting up opponents in a Houston Oilers uniform.


The backlash for failed quarterbacks with dark melanin is swift. Ask Jameis Winston, Daunte Culpepper, Kordell Stewart, Doug Williams (first black super bowl champion by the way), or Robert Griffin III. Josh Freeman tried to do everything right in Tampa and was still sacrificed to the local media. Jamarcus Russell became a standard bearer of expectations for failure when drafting and using a black quarterback as the face of a franchise.


To elaborate, Dak Prescott has more wins than Carson Wentz, and only a percentage of his contract. Prescott might receive the franchise tag, while Carson is in his 4th year and already has a brand new contract solidifying what he means to the organization.


In 2017, Kimberly Martin wrote for the Buffalo News in an exclusive interview with Tyrod Taylor that: “When we win, everything is great. When we lose, they want to crucify you.” For forty minutes Tyrod Taylor opened up about being underestimated and the never-ending challenge of navigating “Unfair” standards placed on mobile quarterbacks, and African American signal callers as a whole. “Buffalo News”



In closing, why are Black quarterbacks consistently being asked to switch their position from a thinker to a worker? Whether one sees the quarterback as a leader or a position of power, communities, organizations, fans, and media cringe at the thought of having to treat an inferior thinker as an equal in a sport run and owned by a rich conservative agenda. 31 of 32 owners have yet to make a stand as far as implementing a punishment for a lack of enforcing the Rooney Rule, yet will fight tooth and nail to maintain control of their players, options, tags, and off the field discretions.


As the CBA and NFLPA are preparing for war in regards to revenue, and a 17th game, the NFL is still in a civil war with how we see, treat, and utilize Black quarterbacks. Someone should reach out to Jalen, and ask him, “Does it hurt to be Jalen Hurts?”


Follow Alex on twitter // @AlxFlmng


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