On the Tuesday broadcast of “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN, co-host Michael Wilbon reacted to the three Heisman Trophy finalists being named, calling Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey “the best player in college football by far.”
Even though Wilbon said McCaffrey was the best, he speculated McCaffrey, who is a white running back, would receive more hype and attention if he were not a white running back. A white running back at the college level and higher has become a rarity in recent years, although Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, also white, was a Heisman finalist in 2009 when he finished runner-up to Alabama’s Mark Ingram.
“Stereotypes become deeply held convictions for a great many people,” explained Wilbon. “To me in order in sports: boxing, and then basketball and then football, these are the places where African-American men, acceptable in some parts in no other place in conventional life, are accepted above all else in those things, boxing, basketball and now football, more quarterback until recently. So now you get a place where this kid is an outsider looking in. The stereotype works against him even though I would vote for him for Heisman.”
Wilbon also added, “Race is always a factor and [McCaffrey] would’ve received so much more publicity, McCaffrey, who has an incredible family in history of achievement in sports in America, if he wasn’t white.”