Seeing a white guy in the NFL running the ball in the end zone from the running back position has become akin to seeing a unicorn in recent years. However, through a combination of perseverance and injury, Lions white running back Zach Zenner has gotten the opportunity to play, and has played quite well over the last several weeks.
What’s more, the play of the “Caucasian Sensation” has gotten the attention of his team’s next opponent. Seahawks’ Michael Bennett lavished praise on Zenner’s recent efforts:
“There’s not many white running backs in the NFL, but he has to be the best right now. He’s doing such a great job of cutbacks and hitting the hole. He’s a really good back. I know all the stuff he did in college, three straight seasons of 2,000 yards. I don’t care where you at, if you can do that, you have got amazing talent.
“I think he’s just an amazing running back, the things he can do with the ball. Good balance, he can spin, he can catch it out of the backfield. I think he fits the offense perfectly.”
Bennett is correct on all counts. There are only three white running backs in the NFL: San Diego’s Danny Woodhead, Cincinnati’s Rex Burkhead, and Zenner. Also, despite Zenner’s rushing success at South Dakota State he entered the league as an undrafted free agent, possibly due to NFL teams racially profiling him due to the lack of recent success of white running backs in the league.
I’m sure Commissioner Goodell will launch an immediate investigation into that.
While the media would have killed any white athlete for couching a compliment like this in terms of race, it does appear as though Bennett is genuinely complimenting Zenner. The comments about his receiving ability, cutback ability, and ability to make people miss are all true and accurate.
The Seahawks and the Lions will clash in the Wild Card round this Saturday night in Seattle.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn