Being a Black quarterback during a time in which the NFL features more than ever can feel meaningless when you play for a franchise that’s always preferred white ones. This is the story of Tyrod Taylor and the New York Giants.
After New York defeated the Washington Commanders 14-7 on Sunday, it was realized that Taylor had become the first Black quarterback to win a game for the Giants — a franchise that’s been playing football since 1925. White — and Black — people were shocked, or at least surprised. It was yet another example of how white — and Black — people so often ignore racism.
Taylor’s historic mark is a perfect example of how race intersects with the NFL, specifically the quarterback position — which is built on a house of cards despite the 14 Black men who started Week One of the 2023 season — as his tenure in the league, and the history of the Giants, is a refresher course in how teams and society at large view Black men who play the position.
In case you didn’t know, Taylor and Geno Smith are the only two Black starters in Giants franchise history — for a whopping total of three games. This is a franchise that was the last one to start a Black quarterback in the history of the league — Smith in 2017. This is also a franchise that is owned by a coward and has a fanbase that didn’t want a Black man under center.
“All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” said Giants owner John Mara in 2018 about why he didn’t sign Colin Kaepernick but kept a kicker (Josh Brown) on the roster after knowing he had been arrested for domestic violence. “’If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.’ It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I’ve run into.”
This is bigger than Mara. It’s about all the fans that Mara heard from, who are also voters. According to 270towin.com, New York has been a blue state when it comes to Presidential elections since 1988. And when you look at who has been in control of the state, Democrats have been the majority as New York has only had three Republican governors since 1959. These are just a few examples of why New York State and New York City are often viewed as “progressive.”
But, progress is a funny thing, especially since it’s so often defined by the oppressors and not the oppressed. It’s no coincidence that the New York Giants have only had one game won by a Black quarterback while playing in a state that’s only had one Black governor. One on the field. One in the Governor’s mansion.
In case you didn’t know, this isn’t Taylor’s first time coming off the bench to help a New York football team win after the franchise was obsessed with a young, sorry white quarterback. Before there was Daniel Jones, there was Nathan Peterman.
Back in 2017, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott benched Taylor for Peterman when the team was 5-4, but still in playoff contention. The Bills would go on to lose to the Chargers. Peterman was benched in the second half of that game. His final stat line read: 6-for-14, 66 yards, five interceptions. Taylor was 15-for-25 for 158 yards with one touchdown. He also had four carries for 38 yards and one rushing touchdown.
“It’s ridiculous to put the blame on Tyrod Taylor right here,” said former Bills head coach Rex Ryan on ESPN at the time. “Unless this guy (Peterman) is Jim Kelly coming back, I don’t know why you make this switch. For whatever reason, Tyrod Taylor has not been their choice.”
The Bills’ quarterback dilemma was as clear as Black and white, yet Ryan was too afraid to call it what it was. The same thing is happening right now with the Giants, as we’ll see how things will turn out when Daniel Jones is healthy.
In case you were wondering, the Buffalo Bills ended a 17-year postseason drought in 2017 when they made the playoffs with Taylor back in the lineup — who went 4-2 in Buffalo’s final six games.
As much as it’s a surprise to some people that it took until 2023 for an NFL franchise that’s been playing football since 1925 to have a Black quarterback finally win a game for them, it’s sadly not surprising at all. Tyrod Taylor isn’t just a history maker, he’s a history lesson of the plight of Black quarterbacks who’ve played professional football in the state of New York.
Original source here
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