Are There Any White Running Backs in the NFL?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 25, 2020 5:50:53 AM ET
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There are white running backs in the NFL. They include Rex Burkhead of the Cincinnati Bengals, James Develin of the New England Patriots, Toby Gerhart of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chase Reynolds of the St. Louis Rams and Danny Woodhead of the San Diego Chargers. Other recent examples include Peyton Hillis of the New York Giants, and Collin Mooney of the Tennessee Titans.

Several sportswriters have pondered why there are relatively few white running backs in the NFL. In 2008, Jemele Hill wrote an article for ESPN that provided some historical background: "There's no doubt racial discrimination and exclusionist Jim Crow policies helped usher in 'position profiling' in both the NFL and college football. For a long period of time, blacks were stereotyped as being intellectually incapable of playing certain positions, namely quarterback. One position where African-Americans were welcomed was running back."

In 2010, an NFL scout suggested that Toby Gerhart's race could be a liability in the NFL Draft, saying that "he'll be a great second-round pickup for somebody, but I guarantee you if he was the exact same guy – but he was black – he'd go in the first round for sure." The Minnesota Vikings selected Gerhart in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.