Ever since the Heisman finalists were narrowed down to Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry, and Christian McCaffrey, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon has been adamant that McCaffrey will not win the Heisman. Why? Not because of skill or level of play, but because McCaffrey is a white running back.
From Wilbon’s interview with Russillo and Kanell:
“I would vote for McCaffrey if I had a ballot this year, there’s no doubt about it, because to me, I voting for the best all around player.
The bigger cultural issue here is that I think it will hurt McCaffrey. The last time there was a white running back who won the Heisman Trophy was 1973, John Cappelletti, or 1972, I might be a year off there, but it’s been 40 years. It’s just, it’s about the stereotypes.”
Wilbon went on to mention that the stereotypes are similar to those often involved about white players and basketball, where the player’s athleticism is suddenly questionable. Host Ryen Russillo agreed, and compared McCaffrey to Reggie Bush in terms of style of play.
It is an interesting point by the former Heisman voter, and it will be intriguing to see how the votes turn out. If McCaffrey loses, it certainly cannot be said immediately that race is to blame, as he is going up against two players that are participating in the College Football Playoff. However, it is still an interesting point that Wilbon brings up about race perceptions in sports.