And even if you say the stats don't matter and that a quarterback's job is to win games, Johnson comes out ahead. Johnson has something McNabb doesn't, a Super Bowl ring, which he went on to win after his Bucs trounced McNabb's Eagles in last year's NFC championship game by a score of 27-10. The Bucs and Eagles were regarded by everyone as having the two best defenses in the NFL last year. When they played in the championship game, the difference was that the Bucs defense completely bottled up McNabb while the Eagles defense couldn't stop Johnson.
In terms of performance, many NFL quarterbacks should be ranked ahead of McNabb. But McNabb has represented something special to all of us since he started his first game in the NFL, and we all know what that is.
Limbaugh is being excoriated for making race an issue in the NFL. This is hypocrisy. I don't know of a football writer who didn't regard the dearth of black NFL quarterbacks as one of the most important issues in the late '80s and early '90s. (The topic really caught fire after 1988, when Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.)
So far, no black quarterback has been able to dominate a league in which the majority of the players are black. To pretend that many of us didn't want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he's black is absurd. To say that we shouldn't root for a quarterback to win because he's black is every bit as nonsensical as to say that we shouldn't have rooted for Jackie Robinson to succeed because he was black. (Please, I don't need to be reminded that McNabb's situation is not so difficult or important as Robinson's—I'm talking about a principle.)
Consequently, it is equally absurd to say that the sports media haven't overrated Donovan McNabb because he's black. I'm sorry to have to say it; he is the quarterback for a team I root for. Instead of calling him overrated, I wish I could be admiring his Super Bowl rings. But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be.
Rush Limbaugh didn't say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn't say anything that he shouldn't have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself. I mean, if they didn't hire Rush Limbaugh to say things like this, what did they hire him for? To talk about the prevent defense?