NFL is 69% black. The athleticism and the power of black athletes in NFL makes it what it is. However, when you think of the NFL greats, who do you think of? Joe Montana. Phillip Rivers. Tom Brady. Gronk.
Why? Why in a sport of mostly black players there are no household black names? The names that those who do not follow NFL would know? Why is it that we have LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson in basketball. Why is it that we all know of Tiger Woods and Venus and Serena, but we don’t have any black players known and exalted for their athletic prowess and strength?
My theory is that NFL unlike tennis or basketball is scarry. The European Americans have always had a fear of the big black man that takes on the white man. This is why in the sport where physical contact is the essence of the sport, nearly all black players in NFL are the silent back drop while the white, non-threatening players are the household names.
But why in basketball are the black players the superstars? Why in tennis or golf are the black players able to be stars on covers of magazines?
Because basketball is non threatening. It is the sport of getting around the opponent, being faster and more agile but never confrontational. This is why players like Scotty Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who were giants of their positions, never got the recognition they deserved, they were the big scary guys of the sport.
Same goes for tennis, baseball and golf, they are “gentlemen” sport with no direct physical confrontation, where the players hit a ball. But even there, Venus and Serena faced fierce racism for their physicality.
Another example is baseball where Ken Griffey Junior was an icon until he got big. Once he became large due to steroids and lifting, his game improved but his standing in the American media and culture was suddenly silenced. Silenced while an equally imposing and steroid using player, Ken Cemenetti became the star.
American racism is unique in the developed world. It was enshrined in law and required a civil war and massive civil dissobedience to take the racism out of the books. But while it is gone from the books where the state was free to persecute people on account of their appearance, the reality is that off the books, European America is still very much a racist.