Today, Peyton Hillis, the Cleveland Browns' most impressive running back since Kevin Mack, is the latest "victim" of the NFL's color cycle. Hillis isn't the run of the mill 6-foot-2, 250-pound chocolate bruiser. He's an Arkansas born-and-raised white guy. Don't you remember the white running back who starred at the University of Arkansas before Darren McFadden and Felix Jones (both African-Americans) pushed him off the depth chart? What about the guy who played for the Broncos and averaged 5 yards per carry before being traded to the Browns? None of this rings a bell?I'm sure, too, that you are familiar with the names Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. These two bronzed tailbacks are the guys Broncos coach Josh McDaniels felt were better than Hillis. Buckhalter missed the 2002, 2004 and 2005 seasons with knee injuries. Apparently a white running back who struggled because he was pigeon-holed as a fullback isn't as valued as a black running back with multiple knee injuries. This is eerily similar to the early years in the NFL when black players struggled with typecasting but kept their mouths shut for fear of being labeled a "troublemaker."Many NFL coaches pounded the notion into Hillis' head that he could only be a fullback in the NFL and he should brush up on his special teams play. Evidently, that's as far as his skin tone would take him.
The Peyton Hillis Syndrome
Is Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis the victim of reverse racism and stereotyping? Former NFL center LeCharles Bentley weighs in.