ESPN's Booger McFarland takes 'African American' NFL players to task amid Dwayne Haskins saga

Jason Owens
·3 min read

After a turbulent year in the “Monday Night Football” booth, Booger McFarland has been honing his chops on the ESPN analyst desk during the 2020 NFL season.

Amid a roundtable discussion about Dwayne Haskins on “Monday Night Countdown,” McFarland delivered a take that, well — let’s just say it will garner some attention.

The Washington Football team released Haskins on Monday, a shocking decision considering it used a first-round draft pick on the Ohio State quarterback just last year. But when adding up Haskins’ performance on the field, his off-field COVID-19 protocol transgressions and the fact that Ron Rivera, in his first year in Washington, had nothing to do with drafting him, the move becomes a little less stunning.

While speaking with Randy Moss, Suzy Kolber and Adam Schefter, McFarland addressed Haskins’ issues and painted them as part of what he sees as a larger problem among NFL players.

Here’s what he had to say:

‘Especially young African American players ...’

“Often times young players, especially — I’m gonna go ahead — especially young African-American players, because they make up 70 percent of this league — they come into this league and ask themselves the wrong thing,” McFarland said. “They come into the league saying not ‘how can I be a better player?’ They don’t say ‘how can I be a better teammate?’ They don’t say ‘how can I be a better person; how can get my organization over the hump?’

“Here’s what they come in saying. They come in saying ‘how can I build my brand better? How can I build my social media following better? How can I work out on Instagram and show everybody that I’m ready to go, but when I get to the game, I don’t perform?”

McFarland compares Haskins to JaMarcus Russell

McFarland’s take is not wholly unique. He recited commentary repeatedly levied by critics who take issue with members of the Millennial and Gen Z generations who don’t know a world without the internet or social media.

But he put his own spin on those broad-brush tropes on Monday and applied them to the very specific group that is the Black NFL player. He continued, calling Haskins out by name and holding him up alongside notable NFL bust, former Oakland Raiders No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell.

“Dwayne Haskins unfortunately is not the first case that I’ve seen like this,” McFarland continued. “And it won’t be the last. And it bothers me because a lot of it is the young African-American player. They come in and they don’t take this as a business. It is still a game to them. ...

“I saw a quarterback do it. I saw JaMarcus Russell do it. The No. 1 pick in the draft, they gave him $40 million, and he threw it down the damn drain because he didn’t take it seriously.”

ESPN analyst Anthony Darelle "Booger" McFarland before a NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams on November 19, 2018 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Booger McFarland held Dwayne Haskins up against another notable quarterback bust, JaMarcus Russell. (Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Names that didn’t come up in his rant include Johnny Manziel, Ryan Leaf, Paxton Lynch and Jake Locker —other notable quarterback busts who obviously don’t meet his stated criteria for criticism on Monday.

The media game is a lot about gaining attention for what you write or say. Hot takes abound because they’re good for business. McFarland paused for a moment on Monday, interjecting “I’m gonna go ahead,” before diving in to his fiery take.

And he’s bound to get some attention on Tuesday, whether he likes it or not.

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