The Heisman Trophy, given to the best football player in the nation whose “performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity” was recently awarded to Alabama’s Derrick Henry. Derrick Henry is an excellent running back, and one who runs with power and abandon, traits I greatly admire. He is fun to watch and very likely a fine young man. I personally like him based on what I’ve seen of him and heard him say. He hopefully will go on to have a great career in the NFL and make himself and his family wealthy. I will enjoy watching him.
Christian McCaffrey is an excellent running back, as well. As a freshman he averaged 7.1 yards per carry. The first time he touched the ball he scored a touchdown. It was on a 52-yard pass reception. Now a sophomore at Stanford, he too was a Heisman Trophy finalist this year. Derrick Henry had 2,083 all-purpose yards (1986 rushing, 97 receiving) in the 2015 season. McCaffrey had 3,496, an NCAA all-division all-time record (including punt and kickoff returns). He saved his best for when it really counted, amassing a mind-boggling 461 yards (207 rushing, 105 receiving and 129 on punt and kickoff returns) in the PAC-12 championship game, which Stanford won handily, beating USC 41-22. It is amazing he’s still standing. He was the only player in FBS (major college football) to lead his team in both rushing and receiving yardage.
It is easy to wonder why McCaffrey didn’t win the Heisman. 2015 was a year sadly drowned in race-relations rhetoric and tension. After all that’s transpired since President Obama first took the oath of office, many ironically see everything only through a racial prism. If one didn’t vote for Obama there were those accusing that person of racism, though in an election between any two people of (any two) different races the same could obviously be said about each candidates voters…if the accuser didn’t care at all about the candidate’s stands on the issues, character, policy proposals, ability to communicate, etc., etc. (Many of those accused of racism and bigotry would happily vote for Dr. Ben Carson). We have gone on to mock and repudiate Dr. Martin Luther King’s wise words proclaiming that it isn’t the color of one’s skin that matters, but the content of one’s character.
I point this out not to bring race to the forefront…it already is and in a big way. It is tragic. I write this rather to illustrate the absurdity of some people’s desperate quest to see everything as a racial slight.
McCaffrey is not a particularly big man. He plays two positions that are more often played by African-Americans. He attends a prestigious school. He is white.
And his name is Christian.
In 2015, he never had a chance.