Former NFL executive sparks controversy by saying Lamar Jackson should switch positions in the NFL

Joe Robbins/GettyLamar Jackson playing for the University of Louisville.
  • Bill Polian, an ESPN analyst and former NFL executive, believes Lamar Jackson should switch to wide receiver in the NFL.
  • Jackson was a Heisman trophy winning quarterback in college and many believe he is talented enough to get a shot as a quarterback in the league.
  • Jackson’s case has once again raised questions of how much racial dynamics affect how quarterbacks are evaluated.

ESPN analyst and former NFL front office executive Bill Polian said Monday in an appearance on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” that he believes Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson should switch positions to wide receiver in the NFL, remarks which have triggered a fair amount of backlash.

“Short, and a little bit slight, and clearly, clearly not the thrower the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there. So I would say don’t wait to make that change. Don’t be like [former Ohio State quarterback and current NFL wide receiver Terrelle Pryor] and be 29 when you make the change,” Polian said.

Polian’s remarks have already drawn harsh criticism from outlets such as SB Nation and The Ringer. For starters, Polian’s description of Jackson, who is listed on ESPN’s website as being 6-foot-3, as being short is odd, given that he’s taller than Super Bowl winners Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

Besides, Jackson has been one of the most electrifying players in all of college football over the past two years. Surely he deserves a shot at the quarterback position in the NFL, especially given the success of Wilson and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, two other quarterbacks who don’t fit neatly into the traditional NFL mould. He is not a perfect prospect – The Ringer does an excellent job of breaking down his strengths and weaknesses as a prospect – but he’s good enough to merit an opportunity to prove himself as an NFL-calibre quarterback.

Many have pointed to Polian’s comments as just another example of how black quarterbacks so often seem to have their games more closely picked apart, or their pro prospects more readily dismissed, than their white counterparts.

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