McNabb Silences Rush Limbaugh

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Last football season, Republican-apologist Rush Limbaugh stole headlines in the sports world when he offered the divisive opinion on ESPN that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had been overrated by a liberal media "desirous that a Black quarterback do well."

Limbaugh went on to suggest in his insensitive remarks that Donovan was not then, nor had he ever been, a good QB. To his credit, the mild-mannered McNabb responded with class, never demanding an apology and declining to label his detractor a racist in subsequent press conferences. Instead, he took the high road, asking simply that his performance on the field, for better or worse, not be linked to the color of his skin. "My worries are about the kids with dreams of playing on this level who are using African American quarterbacks as role models" he said, preferring to shift the focus to the impression Limbaugh's bigoted comments might have made on young minds trying to decide how high to set their sights in life. For he had hoped that the country was well past the days when the prevailing attitude was that blacks simply were not qualified, genetically, to hold a leadership role which relied on intellect.

History has all but forgotten that in 1953 the late Willie Thrower became the first Black to play QB in the NFL when he called signals for the Chicago Bears. It would prove to be tough for other African Americans to follow in his footsteps, taking another 15 years before the Denver Broncos would name Marlon Briscoe its starter. Tragically, for decades, virtually all gifted Black QBs back then were simply faced with the option of either converting to another position or riding the Underground Railroad to the colorblind confines of the Canadian Football League, a proving ground where Warren Moon eventually met with enough success to embarrass the NFL into rethinking its unwritten rule.

Other trailblazers like James Harris, Joe Gilliam and Vince Evans also helped changed attitudes to the point where the presence of QBs the color of Michael Vick and Daunte Culpepper is no longer a novelty. One would think that any demeaning myths would have finally been put to rest in 1988 after the Washington Redskins' Doug Williams threw four TDs and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXII. Or when the Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans lost to the favored Rams in a Super Bowl nail-biter five years ago.

Donovan McNabb stands poised with a shot at making history, and worming his way into the hearts of Philly fans forever, having very quietly led the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX. This, after being stopped at the NFC title game the previous three seasons. Because he chose to let his play do the talking, I hope that the media circus in Jacksonville will refrain from making race part of any Super Bowl equation. For win or lose, unless Donovan's performance is assessed without reference to skin color, Limbaugh will have won in the end afterall.

Black Star columnist Kam Lloyd Williams, Jr. is a member of the NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars. To subscribe to the newsstand edition of the newspaper for more investigative news stories and entertainment profiles please click on "subscribe" on the homepage or call (212) 481-7745.

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