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[April 28, 2006]
Texas-sized case of unfairness?: Montana says Longhorns' Young is top prospect; current QBs raise race concerns
(News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Apr. 28--In the days that followed Texas' national championship victory, Longhorns quarterback Vince Young was praised as one of the best in college football history and a possible No. 1 draft pick after a brilliant performance against Southern California.
In the months since, Young's stock has dropped in the eyes of some draft observers who cite perceived shortcomings, including an imperfect throwing motion, a "simple" Texas offense and a low score on the Wonderlic test, the NFL's version of an IQ exam.
As a result, Young as been projected by some draft experts to fall out of the top 10 of Saturday's draft.
That possibility has made at least two current NFL quarterbacks wonder if Young is the victim of a long -- if fading -- history of discrimination against minority quarterbacks in the NFL.
"They always seem to find something on black quarterbacks," Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said recently. "For him, it's not being from a pro-style offense, him not being able to learn a pro-style offense, to the way that he's throwing, to even the Wonderlic test, which really has no meaning when it comes to football. How do you measure a guy who wins?"
McNabb has had his own brush with the issue of race in football. In 2003, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh said McNabb was overrated by the media because of his race.
Until recently, to see a black quarterback on football's highest stage was a rarity. For years, it seemed that NFL officials thought of black quarterbacks as merely athletes and not as leaders capable of leading an NFL team.
Aaron Brooks, now with the Oakland Raiders, said he hopes the vestiges of prejudice don't hurt Young on Saturday.
"Vince is a very impressive guy. They love his athleticism. But now, all of a sudden, they're being very skeptical about his abilities. So why were they [so impressed by Young before]? So, now, it's possible that his stock is dropping and all of that craziness," said Brooks, whose cousin Michael Vick was drafted first overall in 2001.
Young passed for 3,036 yards and 26 touchdowns and had a 65.2 percent completion percentage during the Longhorns' 2005 season. He also rushed for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Despite impressive statistics and a national title, Young may be the third quarterback drafted behind the Trojans' Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt.
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana said Thursday that Young is the best of the three.
"I think he's a step above the other two," said Montana, who was in the Triangle to discuss hypertension awareness and his health-outreach program, BP Success Zone. "I can't see anyone being much better than Vince all around."
The four-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP said there was a time black quarterbacks such as Young might not have been drafted to play quarterback at all, instead being converted to wideout or defensive back.
"Before, if you had an African- American on your team, he usually was the best athlete and you wanted him to have the ball all the time," Montana said, adding that teams' position needs, not prejudice, might have caused the uncertainty about where Young might be drafted.
McNabb said times are changing and that black quarterbacks are much more accepted than when he entered the league in the late 1990s.
"Now, I think coaches and general managers and owners are understanding that we can play the position," McNabb said.
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