History was made when a record nine African Americans started week 1 of this NFL season. It may seem that in 2013, the race of any player wouldn’t be an issue. In fact, when asked, most of said quarterbacks down played it. Perhaps they should have, acknowledging that it was skill that made team GM’s draft them over anything else. But what can’t be ignored is that they represent opportunity. The Nine—Cam Newton, Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay), Griffin (Washington), Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco), EJ Manuel (Buffalo), Terrelle Pryor (Oakland), Geno Smith (New York Jets), Vick (Philadelphia) and Wilson (Seattle)—lead the charge for change in the NFL, sports, and signify the ever evolving cultural dynamic of America.
The youthful surge at the Quarterback position was huge this year. A quarter of the 12 teams currently in playoff position are lead by quarterbacks 26-years-old or younger, with QB ratings of 85 or better. Philly’s Nick Foles (117), Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton (87.6) and Andrew Luck of Indianapolis (85.2) are not only having stellar seasons, but are doing so under the weight of high expectations.
Football’s first family, the Manning’s, Eli, Peyton and father, Archie, were big winners on and off the field this year. Peyton, arguably the best quarterback to ever play, proved again he wasn’t washed up. He finished last season with the Comeback Player of the Year award, is a favorite to win MVP this season and was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Despite Eli’s struggles the past two seasons with the Giants, he still has the support of the city. The biggest W for the brood came late this past September, when 30 for 30 inspired movie “The Book of Manning” aired on ESPN. The SEC Storied film gave insight on the family dynamic and just how Archie’s youngins were molded for success. Allowing the audience in on their personal lives only helped grew their fan base and gave us a deeper understanding of what fuels each of Archie’s kids.
Was there a bigger story in sports this year than Johnny Manziel? Winning the Heisman trophy in 2012 was just the beginning of the America’s love/hate relationship with Johnny Football. Controversy over money made from his autographed photos, his connection to Drake and OVO, his affliction for trash talk on the field are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what makes him so intriguing. TheTexas A&M sophomore hans’t even played a down in the NFL yet, but he’s already franchise leading level in terms of exposure.
Following in OVOManziel’s footsteps, Jameis Winston became only the second freshman to win the Heisman trophy. At only 19-years-old, the Florida State Seminole also became the youngest player to win the award. Widely considered the top quarterback in his class, Winston embodies the games changing dynamic.