In the NFL, there are white running backs. They include Houston Texans’ Rex Burkhead, Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffery, and Chicago Bears’ Ryan Nall. Peyton Hillis of the New York Giants, Collin Mooney of the Tennessee Titans, and Danny Woodhead of the San Diego Chargers are further recent examples.
Several sportswriters have asked why there are so few white running backs in the National Football League. In 2008, Jemele Hill authored an article for ESPN that gave historical context: “There’s little doubt that racial discrimination and exclusionary Jim Crow regulations contributed to the introduction of ‘position profiling’ in the NFL and college football. Long ago, it was believed that blacks were mentally incapable of playing particular positions, including quarterback. Running back was a position where African-Americans were welcome.
In 2010, an NFL scout stated that Toby Gerhart’s colour could be a hindrance in the NFL Draft, stating, “He’ll be a nice second-round pick-up for somebody, but if he were black, he’d definitely go in the first round.” Gerhart was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Race has been a strange way to divide NFL players, but rosters have been unintentionally imbalanced across positions. White guys dominated the quarterback position for decades. until 1968, when players such as Marlin Briscoe began to break the norm. It took nearly fifty years for every NFL team to have a starting quarterback at the same time.
There are a small number of white running backs on rosters and practise squads in the NFL. The NFL continues to dismantle its biases and rectify its wrongdoings, inching its way toward racial and ethnic diversity.
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