I’m tired of the Danny Woodhead everyman stories. There is one at SI’s website today and it starts with the usual crap about how Woodhead could be the guy in front of you at the DMV. To read the stories you’d think Woodhead was wisp of a man, that a stiff breeze would blow him over. The truth is, Woodhead isn’t tall. But, talk of being an average guy should end right there. He’s almost 200 lbs. He’s far faster and more athletic than anyone you are likely to come across on your daily rounds. So his dimensions, while they may provide perfect camouflage in line at the DMV, put him in the neighborhood of several running backs in the league. Maurice Jones-Drew is 5’7″, 208 lbs. Where are the Jones-Drew everyman stories?
They don’t exist, because Jones-Drew isn’t a white guy. And, that’s really what sets Woodhead apart, isn’t it? It isn’t his small town upbringing. It isn’t his Division II college career. Plenty of guys in the league come from unheralded schools and plenty come from nowhere towns like Woodhead. Woodhead is a bigger underdog and more of an everyman, because he’s a white man playing a position that is dominated by African-Americans. I think this is really what most of these columnists want to say, but they can’t because they probably would get torn apart for being racist.
I understand it is a touchy subject. You can get in trouble from both sides when you say that African-Americans dominate certain realms of professional sports. No one wants to think about that. They want to go around thinking everyone says things like, “Oh, is Danny Woodhead white? I didn’t even notice. He’s just a football player to me.” Well, that’s total sh*t, of course. Woodhead is an underdog story to be sure, and it is probably a story worth telling, but I just don’t like the way it is always framed.
If you look at Woodhead’s stats, it isn’t as if he is dominating the league. He’s been a nice change of pace for the Patriots in what is already a very good offense. He’s essentially Darren Sproles (only bigger), but with every catch and run the legend is growing. And, that is partially because he’s a white guy. You can’t convince me otherwise. And, I’m sure a lot of fans root for him because he’s white. I really don’t think that makes you a racist, either, but it is something most people would be terrified to say. Because if you say that, people will assume that you feel the opposite way about black players, when I don’t necessarily think that has to be the case.
If I was Woodhead, I’d be a little bothered by it all, and maybe even a little offended. Like I said, he’s not some guy who was watching football on his couch one week and playing for the Patriots the next. He’s a serious athlete. He has legitimate speed and athleticism. He was a dominant college player at his level. I’m sure he’s not surprised he’s holding his own in the league, and so everyone else shouldn’t be surprised either. And, that’s really all he’s doing right now, is holding his own. There is no Danny Woodhead for MVP campaign out there.
And, that is why the stories bother me so much, because Woodhead isn’t really a phenomenon. The only unique part of his story is that he’s white. I have no problem with him and I’m not a die-hard fan either. I’m happy to let him go about his business, but I don’t want to be inundated with feel good stories and round the clock coverage on New England’s 3rd down back. That’s all I’m saying.