As the National Football League holds its annual draft, the fate of Toby Gerhart — the star tailback for Stanford University and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy — is generating controversy. Despite eye-popping college statistics, Gerhart wasn't taken in the first round on Thursday. Commentators and NFL insiders have questioned whether he is a victim of a stereotype that white running backs are slow. "I guarantee you if he was the exact same guy — but he was black — he'd go in the first round for sure," said one scout. Was Gerhart the victim of "reverse racism"? (Watch Toby Gerhart's highlight reel)
Of course, racism hurt Gerhart: Toby Gerhart is a "monster," says Dan O'Donnell at 620 WTMJ Newsradio. Even though he's a bruising 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, he still runs the 40-yard dash in a speedy 4.5 seconds. If he were African-American, he would have gone in the draft's first round, for sure — but the NFL just doesn't seem to want white running backs any more.
"Is racism hurting this NFL prospect?"
Nobody's holding Gerhart back: Toby Gerhart is a good player who "mauls tacklers," says John Mitchell in The Grio. He'll get the chance to prove himself. But he really isn't as "elusive" as the NFL's greatest ball carriers—if he "doesn't become the player he thinks he can be, it's not because 'The Man' was trying to keep him down."
"White running back's draft status won't be hamstrung by race"
Gerhart's a victim of "groupthink," not racism: The fact is that "NFL teams are enamored with running backs who have game-breaking speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield," says Michael Preston in True/Slant. That's not Toby Gerhart's game. So Gerhart is a "victim of trend" that favors another style of player — he's not a victim of "any sort of institutional bias related to race."
"Is Toby Gerhart's draft status being affected by race?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- The safest seats are at the back of the plane — and 5 other surprising facts about airline crashes
- Why charity can't solve society's deepest problems
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week