Laying Deadspin to Rest: Simulated White vs. Black NFL Madden Game Shows The Folly of Fans

PK Note: Zenster’s piece will be published later today. Plus, the long-awaited unveiling of the cover of Stuff Black People Don’t Like: 365Black Days of Judging by Content of Behavior will debut next week. A contract is going out for the Detroit and College Football book soon.

White linebacker Ryan Kerrigan knows all too well the reality of real racism in the NFL

Few people know more about football than I do. This is not meant to be sarcastic, I’ve just read more and immersed myself in a serious study of the game that will culminate in release of The Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White in February and a book on the NFL around the start of the 2012 regular season.

For this reason, I had to laugh when reading an article published on Deadspin discussing the simulation of a Race Bowl on Madden NFL Football 2012 between an all-white and an all-Black team.

The author of the piece doesn’t know much about football, believing there to be only five white defensive backs in the NFL. Considering that the New York Jets start two white safeties (Eric Smith and Jim Leonard), and that the racial breakdown in the NFL is 15 percent to 84 percent white/Black in the safety position, we’ll just say the good folks at Deadspin didn’t do much research.

Perhaps they, like many who follow the league, consider the rise of the pedestrian Cam Newton the big story of 2011. The real story of 2011 was the rise of Jordy Nelson, a former walk-on to Kansas State, and Wes Welker, a man who only had one scholarship offer and wasn’t even drafted by an NFL team. They showed that white men can run.

Well, we also saw white running back Toby Gerhart prove he should be a starter in the league when he had the opportunity to replace Adrian Peterson. It’s a safe bet Gerhart never complained about being a $10 million slave; all he complained about was the racism he received during NFL draft evaluations for lacking the right amount of melanin.

Let’s take a quick look at the article:

Earlier this week, reader Dustin asked who would win between an all-white NFL All-Pro team and an all-black NFL All-Pro team. Mind you, this question was asked without ANY ROOTING INTEREST, and without any hint of RAYCESSNESS. Are we clear on that? Good. BECAUSE WE TOTALLY SIMULATED THAT RACE WAR ON MADDEN TO SEE WHO WOULD WIN.

After seeing Tuesday’s post, reader Joe took time to provide us with a full roster for both all-race teams. He had a few notes for us before revealing the roster:

-I didn’t give the white team Haloti Ngata or any Pacific Islanders. Considering Ngata is one of the greatest DTs of all time, and because Troy Polamalu would also count as white, it was too unfair of an advantage for either team. And it’d really look bad if the white team gets an unfair advantage over the black team.

-Shaun Cody, who’s half white, is on the white team because they would have no competent DTs otherwise. Justin Smith is already undersized at DT and couldn’t play every down at the nose. The other white DTs after that are guys named Josh Brent and Scott Paxson. For the sake of minimizing a brutal black-on-white beating, Cody’s on the White team.

-Another half white player, Jimmy Graham, is on the all-black team. That way, we can decide who’s better: GRONK or Graham.

-Since there are no white cornerbacks, Eric Weddle, who can play corner, gets moved there. Craig Steltz, who can’t play corner or safety competently, is the other CB by default. Haruki Nakamura, who’s half white, half Asian does qualify for the white team. There are only 5 white secondary players in the entire NFL. I thought about Tom Zbikowski as a nickel or starter, but decided he’s better off pursuing a boxing career.

-The Black Team would have no qualified kickers. Chad Ochocinco did kick an extra point in a preseason game last year, so he’s the kicker by default. In punting situations, the black team is better off throwing 50-yard bombs to Megatron or Fitzgerald against Steltz then actually punting. But, if they feel compelled to, I guess they can dress Randall Cunningham for punting purposes only.

Here are Joe’s rosters:
WHITE All-Stars
QB: Aaron Rodgers/Drew Brees/Tom Brady
RB: Peyton Hillis
RB: Toby Gerhart
FB: John Kuuuuuuuhhhhhhnnnnnn
WR: Wes Welker
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Danny Amendola
TE: GRONK
TE: Jason Witten
T: Joe Thomas
T: Jake Long
G: Logan Mankins
G: Chris Snee
C: Nick Mangold
DE: Jared Allen
DE: Jason Babin
DT: Justin Smith
DT: Shaun Cody
OLB: Clay Matthews III
OLB: Jarrett Johnson
ILB: Brian Urlacher
ILB: Brian Cushing
CB: Eric Weddle
CB: Craig Steltz
SS: Sean Considine
FS: Haruki Nakamura
K: Sebastian Janikowski
P: Shane Lechler
KR/PR: Danny Woodhead

BLACK All-Stars
QB: Cam Newton/Michael Vick
RB: Ray Rice
RB: LeSean McCoy
FB: Vonta Leach
WR: Megatron
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
WR: Mike Wallace
TE: Jimmy Graham (also qualifies as white)
TE: JerMichael Finley
T: Jason Peters
T: D’Brickashaw Ferguson
G: Jahri Evans
G: Brian Waters
C: Maurkice Pouncey
DE: Dwight Freeney
DE: Jean Pierre-Paul
DT: Vince Wilfork
DT: Jay Ratliff
OLB: DeMarcus Ware
OLB: Terrell Suggs
ILB: Patrick Willis
ILB: Derrick Johnson
CB: Darrelle Revis
CB: Champ Bailey
CB: Johnathan Joseph/Charles Woodson
FS: Ed Reed
SS: Earl Thomas
K: Chad Ochocinco
P: None
KR: Devin Hester

I take issue with some of Joe’s choices, but no roster here will ever be 100% agreed upon. Joe picked the All-Black team to win 70-56. Was he accurate? Well, we decided to have Owen Good from Kotaku simulate the game on Madden. He writes:

It is impossible to create the lineup Joe suggests in Madden NFL 12, much to EA Sports’ relief, I am sure. The All-White lineup fits everyone he suggests under the cap with the exception of the third quarterback (Brady, in this case). This is thanks to the terrible secondary and the lack of GLORY BOYS at running back and wide receiver.

The All-Blacks are impossible. I had to forego Michael Vick (subbing in Terrelle Pryor), Mike Wallace (keeping Chad Ochocinco for assumed versatility) and dedicating myself to a 4-3 to get rid of Derrick Johnson and preserve the front four of Freeney, Pierre-Paul, Wilfork and Ratliff. I was still gasping for air in the secondary, hamstrung by my inability to get rid of injured contracts totaling $2 million each.

Even if could have disposed of Hiram Eugene and Rock Cartwright, I couldn’t have wedged in Johnathan Joseph and/or Charles Woodson and Ed Reed. I sacrificed Reed for the highest-value free safety I could find—Seattle’s Kam Chancellor, rated 84 with just a $600,000 cap hit. I had to let go of Joseph and Woodson as the third corners, also for cap reasons.

The best cornerback I could fit under the cap was Kansas City’s 83-rated Brandon Carr.

The final problem is the inability to assign non-kickers to punting and kicking slots in the depth chart, so there goes Ochocinco, rated 73 in kicking power and 60 in kicking accuracy, as your leg. That may sound halfway decent until you realize that the lowest rated kicker comes in at 81 in either category. I took Josh Bidwill off the free agent scrap heap, rated 81 in power and 87 in accuracy, and pretended he was black.

In the video, you’re going to see non-all stars and sometimes players of different races on the wrong sideline or even in the plays (Goethel shows up for the Raiders, Ball for the Cowboys). This is because a) I didn’t get a full 53-man roster full of white/black all stars and b) the aforementioned cap problem.

I did not intervene on the 2-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half, judging that to be a PAT (it was, actually, kicked from the center of the field) which Ocho made. I did not show that in the video just because it’s too jarring to have the white kicker there.

I’m sure Drew is noting the punt/kick disparity, and Hester returned nothing. User returns of any decent length are rare on this game and CPU returns are nonexistent.

The final result?
WHITE ALL-STARS 28, BLACK ALL-STARS 24

Now, this was only one simulation, so you’d have to run it 100 times or so to get a proper average score. And let’s face it: The Black All-Star team was thoroughly hamstrung by Madden’s bullshit salary cap rules. If there were no salary cap, then the outcome may have been radically different.

Deadspin couldn’t bother looking up the actual NFL racial breakdown

Few thoughts: There are plenty of talented white defensive tackles in the NFL. I’d put the Washington Redskins Adam Carrikers on the team, and add Kelly Gregg.  Running a 3-4 defense would allow the white team to utilize more linebackers and insert complex blitz packages. There are so many talented white linebackers, that it would be silly not to insert the Redskins Ryan Kerrigan onto the team. He understands – like Gerhart – how the NFL discriminates against talented white players:

Terrelle Pryor is fast. The Ohio State quarterback usually runs away from defenders, even swift defensive backs, with his long stride. He has been timed in the 40 under 4.4 seconds, which is blazing fast. That’s why one play of the many that I watched when studying Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan caught my eye. Terrelle Pryor didn’t run away from him. Kerrigan actually closed on him.

That’s big-time speed for a 6-foot-3, 267-pound defensive end. And it’s also why any comparison of Kerrigan to Aaron Kampman and Kyle Vanden Bosch, two NFL defensive ends, does him a disservice. I think Kerrigan is compared to those defensive ends for one reason: Like them, he’s white. The NFL Draft stereotypes are almost never fair. Yet we hear them every year heading into the draft. This year, Cam Newton is almost always compared to Vince Young, in part because both are black quarterbacks who move around. Unfair. They aren’t as alike as you might think. 

Last year, receiver Jordan Shipley, coming out of Texas, was often compared to New England’s Wes Welker, even though Shipley ran much faster. I actually asked Shipley, who just finished his rookie season with the Bengals, his thoughts about the comparison. He wanted no part of that talk. It’s a touchy subject for sure, but let’s be real: Labeling and comparing a player based on race happens.

“Comparing current NFL players to current college players is very common, especially in the spring as things intensify for the draft,” one NFL general manager said. “At least coming out of college, Ryan is a better pass rusher than Aaron and Kyle. I don’t see Cam like Vince either. I think you have to be careful to compare players for only one reason.”

For Kerrigan, the comparisons usually come with phrases such as try-hard, effort-player, never quits. They also might be costing him money. Speed rushers go in the top-10 of the draft; effort rushers go mid-first round to late-first round. In his mock draft for NFL.com, Pat Kirwan writes that Kerrigan plays with a high motor. Our top-notch guys from NFL DraftScout.com wrote this in their analysis of him: “Hustle pass-rusher; does not have exceptional closing burst.”

 Just as Peyton Hillis went on The Dan Patrick Show to talk about Black defensive players making fun of him, Kerrigan went on the show to discuss stereotypes:

Former Purdue defensive end, now current Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan went on the Dan Patrick show this morning to talk about his first NFL game, a 28-14 win over the Giants.

While on the show, Patrick discussed the “high motor” clique used to describe white players, which Kerrigan called a “double-edged sword,” because it implies you don’t have any talent. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to play with a lot of energy, however.

In many locker rooms, white players are a distinct minority (each NFL roster has 53 active spots and the league is 67 percent Black/ 31 percent white). If white players weren’t worried about social ostracism and being called a “racist,” how many do you think would comment openly about bigotry they have faced from predominately Black teammates and opponents?

White defensive backs? Didn’t William Rhoden already write something about in a strange New York Times column on Red Tails (without mentioning the dearth of Black fighter pilots )? Weddle would make a great NFL corner; New England plays the versatile Julian Edelman at corner/receiver/ and kick returner now. He’d be perfect for this game.

If you had the chance to pick the best white players for an offensive line, it’s hard to imagine an all-Black defense putting any pressure on the white quarterback. Gerhart, Hillis, and Danny Woodhead would run for big yards in this situtation.

You have your pick of talented white tight ends, with Witten and New England’s Rob Gronkowski posing huge threats to an all-Black secondary and being major match-up problems to linebackers trying to guard them. Owen Daniels would also be a great tight end for this team.

Receivers? Welker, Nelson, Denver’s Eric Decker, Philadelphia’s Riley Cooper, and Miami’s Brian Hartline would be a perfect five-deep rotation. Indianapolis’ Austin Collie would be great as well, a hard player to cover from the slot or from the outside receiver position.

And on defense, so many talented white defensive ends would be more than willing to play for a team where they weren’t the only white guy on the field. They’d actually have someone to talk to in the locker room.

A white safety like Reed Doughty would be a reliable contributor on this team, and would receive praise for his work instead of backhanded compliments like this from WaPo:

Doughty isn’t a physical specimen like Landry and doesn’t have the superstar credentials Taylor had. Yet he has been an important cog on the team. He has survived two coaching changes and has been part of the defense as long as anyone (Rocky McIntosh and Kedric Golston were fellow 2006 draft picks).

Personally, I think an all-white team would dominate not just Madden, but also the real NFL. Remember what Peyton Manning meant to the Colts (as we saw, there all-Black defense was horrendous in both 2010 and 2011, but without Manning, the offense couldn’t carry the load):

From the we’re-not-supposed-to-mention-this file: It was fascinating watching Peyton Manning and his BYU offense destroy the Denver Broncos.

The unwritten rule in sports writing/journalism is we’re only supposed to mention racial progress when it involves dark-skin minorities. Obviously, I don’t care about rules.

With receiver Pierre Garcon sidelined with an injury, the Colts started and played nine white guys on offense pretty much all day. NFL rosters are nearly 70 percent comprised of African-Americans. What the Colts did was significant.

For a day, the best offense in football was 82 percent white. Austin Collie, Garcon’s replacement, put a clown suit on the Denver secondary with precise route running and nifty moves after the catch. Some practice-squad kid, Blair White, performed a Collie impersonation when Collie was tired.

Peyton Manning is the Larry Bird of this era. I mean that as high, high praise. I’m not accusing Manning or the Colts of any kind of racism. Bill Polian, Jim Caldwell (and Tony Dungy) have surrounded Manning with players who mirror his approach to the game. Race is not the determining factor.

An offense is only as good as the quarterback and the offensive line built to protect and block for that QB. We know Black Men can’t throw. We also know Black men perform poorly on the Wonderlic; thus, an offensive coordinator would have a much more intelligent team with all-white players as opposed to the learning disabled all-Black team.

I believe that the key to understanding why Black-Run America (BRA) persists is because of the belief in Black athletic supremacy — which is a true social construct. White alumni of schools worry what would happen if they took public stances about Black failures in American life, and the consequences of what happens when a city goes majority Black.

An all-white team would beat an all-Black NFL team. Not just in Madden, but on a real field too.

Knowing that most of the white skilled position players in the NFL have had an uphill battle (largely NFL and college scouts questioning their debilitating whiteness) to get to the league, it would be this game where they’d have the chance to make a major statement.

Add white running back Jacob Hester to the team, and he’d show you how a white man really runs the football.

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