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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 24 January 2007

I admit that it may be considered narrow-minded, politically incorrect and not altogether logical, but that's not going to stop me from celebrating a 2007 Super Bowl that features the Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears.
Although a Black quarterback, Doug Williams, has won the MVP trophy, no Black head coach has taken his team to the ultimate football game. And when the Bears line up opposite of the Colts on Feb. 4, it will place two Black head coaches on the sidelines, guaranteeing that one will emerge victorious.
Even though football is a game, it has never been only a game. I know because I played football in segregated Alabama and remember how I beamed with pride when I saw an African American on TV playing quarterback, the position that supposedly requires the most intellect. At 14 years old, I saw Sandy Stephens on TV quarterbacking the University of Minnesota. After that, in my mind, I became Sandy Stephens. His talent was on display for everyone to see. On the field, I didn't want to be like Mike, I wanted to be like Sandy.
When you have "White" and "Colored" signs staring at you every day, you take pride wherever and whenever you can find it. In the athletic world, Sandy Stephens gave me that pride. The all-White teams at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, my hometown, certainly didn't instill any Black pride, so I looked north for it. I never met Sandy Stephens, but I didn't have to. His mission was accomplished from afar and, at the time, that worked just fine.
Our young people in particular need to know that the world many of them take for granted, has not always been this way. When Blacks played on integrated teams up north, they were still shut out of playing quarterback and middle linebacker, the defensive equivalent. We were supposedly too dumb to play those positions. And heaven forbid Blacks becoming stars at those coveted positions; the secret would be out.
These myths persisted even though the 1950s' and 1960s' teams of Jake Gaither at Florida A&M, John Merritt at Tennessee State and Eddie Robinson at Grambling were capable of beating some White schools in the South. In fact, in the first interracial football game in the South, played on Nov. 29, 1969, Gaither's Florida A&M Rattlers defeated the University of Tampa 34-28.
Segregation was designed to crush the dreams of Blacks. And one way of doing that was to make sure Black athletes didn't star in the glamour positions, especially quarterback.
That brings me back to my original point: Black kids will be among the millions watching this year's Super Bowl on TV. And while most eyes will be fixed on the action occurring on the field, some youngster will notice the guys walking on the sidelines with a headset on. From that moment on, the kids won't have to wonder whether they can compete at the highest level of coaching, they will have proof. They will see it for themselves.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and BlackPressUSA.com.

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