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Clemson QB Deshaun Watson Doesn’t Approve of “Code Words” Being Used to Describe Black QB’s
Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson is not a fan of lazy writers or anybody who use the same narratives when describing black quarterbacks. Watson says people use the word ‘dual-threat quarterback’ as a code word to place all black QB’s in the same category, and he wants none of it.
During a sit-down interview with Bleacher Report, Watson talks about his life, upbringing, and how these code words need to stop.
BR-Hayes: “Late last year, before the national championship game at Alabama, you took exception to a reporter claiming NFL scouts are questioning your ability to throw the ball and that you’re more of a runner. You were very animated in your response. Why is that so important to you?”
Watson: People say, well he’s a dual-threat quarterback. You look at that word…that’s a code word.
BR-Hayes: How is it possible, after so many black quarterbacks have had successful careers in both college football and the NFL, that we’re still dealing with those black-quarterback stereotypes?
Watson: I have no idea, but it’s there. People think, ‘Oh, he’s a black quarterback, he must be dual-threat.’ People throw around that word all the time. It’s lazy. The one thing I learned early on as a football player is people have their opinions, and I can’t change them. But I can show them what they’re missing.
People have assumed that I have to run the ball before I can throw it most all of my career, all the way back before high school. It’s a stereotype put on me for a long time because I’m African-American and I’m a dual-threat quarterback. I don’t know why that stereotype is still around. It’s about talent and the ability to throw the ball, not the color of your skin or your ability to also be a dangerous runner.
It bothered me when I was young until I finally realized the only way to change it is to make your mark on the field and force them to see. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
BR-Hayes: You’ve always been a thrower, all the way back before your high school days, right?
Watson: I threw for more than 13,000 yards and 155 touchdowns at Gainesville High School and set the Georgia state record for total offense and total touchdowns by the end of my junior season. We won our first state title in more than 100 years. Every school recruited me to throw the football, not run it. I threw for more than 4,000 yards [and 35 touchdowns] last year and was more accurate on throws of more than 30 yards than anyone [in college football—a stat Clemson attributes to an ESPN broadcast but that B/R couldn't verify]. You don’t get all of that by running the ball first and throwing it second.
Then everyone said, ‘Well, let’s see how he does against the Alabama defense’—the defense everyone thought was the best. I think my teammates and I proved we can throw the ball.