What if I told you Peyton Hillis was going to become the first white running back in 25 years to rush for 1,000 yards in an NFL season? The last time someone did it, Ronald Reagan was President.
Kind of insane, no?
Not really, in Hillis' eyes:
"I’m a human just like everybody else is a human. I don’t think race really matters. Guys on this team look at me as a person, not as an image or a race."
That may be true, and good for the Cleveland Browns if they're more racially enlightened than the rest of us.
But I see Peyton Hillis as a person that's also a white guy, and it's kind of awesome that for the first time in a quarter-century, there's a white running back that's going to meet the benchmark for success among NFL running backs. Should we feel uncomfortable celebrating this? Is it racist to root for someone based solely on the color of his skin?
I root for white running backs the same way I root for white point guards, and the same way black people root for black quarterbacks and Vietnamese people used to worship Dat Nguyen.
It's not obnoxious to root for an endangered species; it's only natural, really.
So downplay it all you want, Peyton, but this is awesome. You're a gritty, heady, grind-it-out, student of the game (or something) who beat the odds after all the hard work paid off. And maybe those cliches are an elaborate way of saying, "You're white and kinda average," but damnit, you're a SUCCESSFUL, kinda-average white guy. And among NFL running backs, that's something we haven't seen for 25 years. It's 2010. If Barack Obama can be President...
Can Peyton Hillis restore hope in white running backs this Sunday?