The Rise of the Black Quarterback by Jason Reid, sports history, 4.25 stars, 282 pages, 2022
As a football fan, I was so excited when Trish asked if I’d like to be part of this book tour. I’m a Buckeye and I think it goes without saying that attending Ohio State means that you are going to be bombarded with football in the fall. Now that I live in Cleveland the Bucks help make watching the Browns more bearable.
If you’re thinking you have to like football to like this book you’d be mostly right. This is a book about the start of the NFL and other professional football leagues as they got started in the early 1900s and about the black players, but you can’t tell that story without talking about that period of time. I found the first half of the book just as interesting historically as anything else. Reid does an exceptional job of painting a portrait of the men. I really felt like I knew these men who broke barriers, like Fritz Pollard.
Even though I’m not completely naive to the the history of racism in the US and how it still rears its ugly head, I was surprised to see the barriers put up for black quarterbacks, like a 13 year period when some unspoken rule kept them from the NFL. But even after this ‘ban’ lifted so many great black athletes were passed over and the ones who weren’t faced so much backlash from fans. Warren Moon, the only black quarterback in the NFL Hall of Fame, was booed by his own college fans for years, before leaving to play in the Canadian league. He had to win up there for 6 years before an NFL team was willing to bring him home. This was the early 1980s. And the hate mail and death threats around that time period for many of the men were still shocking to me and I’m an 80’s kid!
There’s so much more here, but I can’t tell all of the stories! I am so glad I read it. Reid did a skillful job of telling the stories of the past and tying them to the current day NFL and it’s crop of black quarterbacks. He brings it full circle. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Chicago Bears Justin Fields who is having a standout season after only two years removed from THE Ohio State University 🙂
“In September 2019, ESPN’s The Undefeated website (now Andscape) began a season-long series of articles on the emergence of Black quarterbacks in the NFL. The first article in the series was Jason Reid’s enormously popular, “Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback.” The series culminated with an hour-long television program in February 2020, hosted by Reid himself. The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America will expand on Reid’s piece—as well as the entire series—and chronicle the shameful history of the treatment of Black players in the NFL and the breakout careers of a thrilling new generation of Black quarterbacks. Intimate portraits of Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray feature prominently in the book, as well as the careers and legacy of beloved NFL players such as Doug Williams and trailblazing pioneers Marlin Briscoe and Eldridge Dickey. Reid delves deeply into the culture war ignited by Kaepernick’s peaceful protest that shone a light on systemic oppression and police brutality. Fascinating and timely, this page-turning account will rivet fans of sports, cultural commentary, and Black history in America.” from Goodreads.
I want to thank TLC Book Tours for sending me the book!