Plight of the white NFL cornerback: Does African ancestry give black athletes an edge?

Agent Smith (back) and Morpheus (front)

Over the past 20 years, only seven white men have played cornerback in a regular-season NFL game….

All 64 starting cornerbacks in the NFL are black. So are their backups. One hundred-sixty black cornerbacks, give or take. Not a single white one. It’s been this way for more than 10 years.

A sizable chunk of our population considers the mere discussion of these issues to be morally vile. But as Jon Entine asked in his book, Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About it, “What are we to make of the fact that an athlete of African ancestry holds every major running record, from the 100 meters to the marathon?” Entine, a senior research fellow at Cal who founded the Genetic Literacy Project, explains how all this relates to NFL cornerbacks: “In addition to sprinting speed, numerous studies have shown that athletes of African ancestry generally have longer extremities than white athletes. This is one of the ways Africans have dissipated body heat over thousands of years in sub‑Saharan conditions.


Studies published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition point out that black Africans also generally have thinner hips than Caucasians, making their chassis better for accelerating, stopping, changing direction, leaping. …

Playing cornerback.

All of this is up for interpretation—if you dare go there. “Even raising the issue of racial differences is considered racist in some circles,” Entine points out in Taboo, “an odd stance considering the lip service given to cultural diversity.”


Entine calls African ancestry “the single biggest factor in succeeding at cornerback.” Flipping through photos of current cornerbacks in the NFL, it’s a difficult claim to dispute.

But Dr. Harry Edwards gives it a try. “What is Entine talking about?!” asks the revered Berkeley sociologist and activist. “Africans have been here for 360 years. Today, 80% of African Americans are people born of some level of interracial and intercultural mixing. [Entine’s claims are] pure insanity…”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The White Cornerback: NFL players past and present open up about race at the position


For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

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