McNabb tells HBO that race is an issue at QB position

Posted: September 18, 2007

Donovan McNabb says African-American quarterbacks are perceived differently than white quarterbacks in a wide-ranging interview that will air tonight on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

In the conversation, which will be shown at 10 o'clock, McNabb also talks about the pressure of being the quarterback in this city and what it takes to tick him off. The interview was taped Aug. 31, an HBO spokesman said.

At one point, interviewer James Brown asks McNabb about how people perceive him as a quarterback, alluding to the lack of African-Americans at the position because some people thought "they weren't smart enough."

"There's not that many African-American quarterbacks, so we have to do a little bit extra," McNabb says.

When pressed by Brown, McNabb continues, "Because the percentage of us playing this position, which people didn't want us to play this position, is low, so we do a little extra."

Brown later pushes on with the race issue after McNabb talks about people's reactions to his play.

"I pass for 300 yards, our team wins by seven, [mimicking] 'Ah, he couldn've made this throw, they would have scored if he did this,' " McNabb explains.

Brown then asks, "Doesn't every quarterback go through that?" McNabb says flatly, "Not everybody."

Brown ponders if the media is as tough on Carson Palmer or Peyton Manning, or if they are more harsh on McNabb because he's an African-American.

"Let me start by saying I love those guys," McNabb says with a smile. "But they don't get criticized as much as we do. They don't."

The interview begins with McNabb speaking about his time here in Philly.

"Every year I'm part of some criticism," McNabb says with a chuckle. "But every day that we go through life, you're faced with a lot of adversity. Now the answer is how do you handle the adversity. How do you respond?

"I try to handle myself with class. I try to handle myself with dignity. I think sometimes people look to players to act out, speak loudly, pretty much be an idiot. But that's not me."

The piece dives into McNabb as a child growing up first in Chicago, then in the mostly white suburb of Dolton, Ill. McNabb's parents, Sam and Wilma, talk of how they raised their sons to always try to do the right thing and to be leaders, not followers. McNabb talks of his struggles with bullies in the neighborhood, admitting to getting into a few fights. Brown then asked what pushes McNabb's buttons now.

"If you put your hands on me, I've got something for you," McNabb seriously proclaims. "You can talk all you want to. If you continue to try me, then we've got a problem." *

- Bob Cooney

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