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Race in the NFLs most Critical Position: An Analysis of Draft Position, All Pro Selections, MVP Nods, and Performance among White and Nonwhite Quarterbacks
AuthorBondon, Micah S
AdvisorPeoples, Clayton D
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AbstractThe United States (U.S.) has a complicated history with race and racism. Sports withinthe U.S. reflect these historical challenges—and the National Football League (NFL) is no exception. Recent years have brought controversy after some players kneeled during the national anthem to express support for Black Lives Matter (BLM), some of whom suddenly found themselves out of jobs—the most famous example being former San Francisco 49ers and University of Nevada quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. The purpose of this thesis is twofold: (1) to see if race is a significant factor in decisions about NFL quarterbacks, such as draft decisions, All-Pro selections, and MVP nods; and (2) to determine if there are significant racial differences in the on-the-field performance of NFL quarterbacks. Using data on 709 NFL quarterbacks, 1950-2020, regression analyses were run to assess the impact of race on draft position, All-Pro selections, MVP nods, and performance, controlling for other factors. The results of the analyses show that race is a significant factor in All-Pro selections, with nonwhite quarterbacks receiving a significantly smaller number of All-Pro selections than white quarterbacks. Interestingly, though, nonwhite quarterbacks have significantly better on-the-field performance than white quarterbacks. (No other models exhibited significant racial differences.) The findings of the analyses suggest that the NFL—and particularly sports writers/journalists—have some additional work to do to eliminate racial bias—especially given the disconnect between All-Pro selections and on-the-field performance.