(This is a debate thread, not a Game Room thread.)
In another Great Debates thread, it was claimed that the reason that black athletes are so prevalent at the cornerback position (a position which, at the NFL level, if I’m not mistaken, is more African-American than any other position in football,) was because American football culture typically encourages and discourages players of certain ethnicities to play certain traditionally-white or traditionally black positions.
This makes me want to ask for anecdotal evidence: If you are white Caucasian, and have played football before - be it at the high school, college or pro level - and, if you were outstandingly fast (let’s say, 4.2 forty-yard dash), agile, great defensive instincts, great leap, had every required skill and knowledge, etc. - ***and ***wanted to play the cornerback position, would your coaches have tried to subtly steer you towards a different position on the team, or do you think they would have allowed you to play cornerback, no questions asked or reluctance whatsoever?
If the reason for there being almost no white cornerbacks in the NFL is not a matter of football culture “steering” players of certain races towards or away from certain football positions, then, then why are there almost no white cornerbacks in the NFL today, and/or no white equivalent of Deion Sanders, Champ Bailey or Richard Sherman?
(This is a debate thread, not a Game Room thread.)
4.2 speed is world class – I doubt any Doper, or more than 1 in a million folks on Earth (if not fewer) or so, ever ran that fast.
Hey, I could run 40 yards in 4.2 minutes!
On a good day.
I self identify as white, but how are you defining Caucasian?
If I had the skills to do anything but warm the bench as a second-string WR, my coaches would gladly have put me anywhere in the field I wanted to play.
Exactly. The OP started on a really bad note. As noted above, almost no one runs 4.2 fourties. The fastest recent run at the NFL combine is 4.24 by Chris Johnson (2008). There have only been 6 times under 4.3. There are only 2 anecedotal times below 4.2 (Bo Jackson, 4.13 & 4.18, and Jakeem Grant, 4.12(hand-timed)). In short, you are not going to find anyone on a message board who has run a 4.2.
However, since the OP mentioned a hypothesis I have posited myself, I feel the need to comment more generally. NFL is highly specialized, and often that specialization occurs fairly early on. There are notable exceptions, but by and large, once you are on the radar as a prospective professional player (eg. high school or college), you are seen as a certain type of player. Further, that thinking, generally speaking, tends to create racial and physical homogeneity across sports. Just looking at football, there are 5 positions that are almost completely racially homogeneous: kicker, punter, long snapper, cornerback, and nose tackle. Kickers and punters tend to be White, despite the fact that soccer (a sport many kickers/punters played) in the US is fairly diverse. In the MLS, no race make up a majority of the players. You’d think the NFL would be less overwhelmingly White if it were just about innate or demonstrated skill.
Long snapper is another position where the racial makeup makes little sense if it were just skill based. There are no non-White long snappers, despite there being a decent number of non-White centers and offensive tackles, the positions closest to LS in size and skill set. While there are no White cornerbacks, there are a decent number of White wide receivers, the position closest in size and skill set.
According to this site 4.2 speed in the 40 would translate to 9.79 second for the 100 meter. The fastest time a white man has ever recorded in the 100 meters is 9.92 seconds. It is not likely a white man has ever run a 4.2 in the 40.
Speed over 40m is for all practical purposes entirely unrelated to speed over 100m.
Yeah. That irks me as well.
Especially the NFL 40 yard dash, which in many ways is a bullshit number used to make players seem like world-class sprinters when they’re actually not. Don’t get me wrong, many NFL players are incredibly fast, but if you put them on blocks and made them react to a starting gun most of them would get absolutely demolished by pro sprinters. NFL combine players get to start whenever they feel like it, meaning their reaction time doesn’t matter. That can take something like a quarter second or more off their time compared to having to react to a starting gun.
Old 40 yard dash times in particular are very inaccurate since they used to be timed by hand with a stopwatch rather than laser start/stop. Wikipedia claims they didn’t use laser start/stop until 1999…
Last, the NFL combine uses yards, which are slightly shorter than meters.
Not bullshit. The test is for that"first step". The ability to accelerate to as high a speed in as short a distance as possible.
Gaining a step advantage is more important than top speed downfield.
Since the NFL uses yards, why would they time over a metric distance?
If I had the physical requirements described, I would not have been steered away from that position in favor of a black player because my school had almost no black students. Probably not the kind of answer you’re going for, but you asked.
it really is a brave new world where you can be anything you want LOL
How are you defining ‘football’?
Yeah. AFAIK the area around the Caucasus Mountains is not exactly a hot-bed of NFL talent.
I was never fast enough to be a white cornerback. So I was never steered to play a slower position. In high school and “Pee Wee” football kids tended to play both ways and the offensive and defensive positions were fairly equivalent. Guys would play OL and DL. Running backs tended to play linebacker. QBs and WRs would play CB. Your Center wasn’t going to be a CB and for the most part the QB wasn’t going to be a DE. The best kids would start both ways, but some would start on D and be a backup FB or something.
I don’t recall or have any experience with white players being steered to less “athletic” positions, but I do know of several black QBs who were steered to CB. In many cases, I think it was just a practical consideration for continuing a career, though. My high school’s black QB who started 4 years and played in 2 state title games, played CB in college and became a small-college DB coach. He wasn’t going to make it as a QB in college. I think there is a lot of bias, at least historically, but often it’s just trying to make it to the next level. If you are a slow WR but you can bulk up and learn to block, maybe you have a future as TE (have seen this happen with white guys, actually…but again the qualifier is they were too slow to be NFL WRs). In the city where I live now there was a white RB who did really well in high school. I think he rushed for 5000 yards or something in his career. He became a college (and briefly, NFL) punter. No one was offering him as a RB, but not because he was white.
I actually ran the second fastest 40 time on my high school team as a Jr. (just under 5.0 secs). However, I went to a small prep school and I was one of two guys on the team (excluding one overweight guy) who weighed over 190 lbs. So I was steered to a position due to size and played tackle both ways. I used to run by my own LBs, DEs, and DBs to make tackles.
Wow is that a slow team. I ran a few tenths above 5.0 and I was the 2nd slowest guy on my team. We were a lousy small-school team that rarely did better than three or four wins out of ten, but we still had multiple guys who ran in the 4.7-4.8 range.
I agree. Our fastest guy was like 4.6-4.7 and was an All-Metro kick/punt returner, but that was it. When I was a sophomore, we had many more guys in the 4.7-4.8 range, but they graduated.
I’m a white guy who played cornerback on my high school team. Don’t know what my speed was, probably 7th fastest on the team. But the CB position in HS, particularly a smaller one, is not like the position in the NFL. It’s probably a hybrid of a CB position and outside linebacker.
Don’t know if this helps, but in HS, other than the QB, which is a specialized position, the coach looks for the RBs first, those are the fastest/bast athletes. And fils in from there. On defense, it’s the LBs first, the DEs and then the CBs. The Safety positions went to to fast guys who wouldn’t be hitting as much. One kid who rode the bench was of East african descent and really fast in the 100. Watching him run was a beautiful thing. But he was pretty light and couldn’t hit worth shit.
The degree to which Black players dominate the speed positions in the NFL really does appear to be tied in some way to genetics. At that elite level, a little bit faster matters a lot. And as we see in the pure speed sport of sprinting, the fastest humans have more melanin and appear to all have West African ancestry.
So, no, coaches are not steering whites away from the position. It’s just that if you move from HS to College to the pros, the best are the ones that make it. I could have played at a small college, but that would be the extent of how far I could have gone. I never even dreamed of playing at a real football school. Those guys are all way faster.