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Brian Hartline’s teammates think he’s underrated because he’s white

Ryan Tannehill, Brian Hartline, Nate Clements AP

When Jordy Nelson was breaking out for the Packers last season, his fellow wide receiver Greg Jennings said that he thought Nelson got underestimated around the league because he’s white.

According to some members of the Dolphins, Nelson’s big 2011 season hasn’t changed much on that front. Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post writes that Hartline, who ran track for a time at Ohio State and has shown he can get behind defenses, keeps hearing that the Dolphins need to get some more speed at receiver while hearing himself described as being “deceptively fast.” Wide receiver Davone Bess and quarterback Ryan Tannehill think that their teammate’s skills get downgraded because, like Nelson, people are put off by a white wide receiver.

“Yeah, man. Definitely,” Bess said when asked if people underrate Hartline’s speed because of his skin color. “He can run. That’s good that they sleep on him, because come game time he can open up on them.”

“I’ve had that label before, too. It’s just kind of a stigma that comes with it,” Tannehill, who played receiver in college before moving to quarterback, said of the “deceptively fast” label. “If it helps you, then it helps you. I don’t know if teams underestimate him or anything, but he’s making plays for us, and it doesn’t matter what color you are.”

While preconceived notions about race have surely contributed to some judgments about Hartline, who leads the NFL with 514 receiving yards, his sneak attack on the NFL this season has had much to do with preconceived notions about the Dolphins passing game as well. The combination of a rookie quarterback that draft pundits said would need a lot of grooming and an unheralded receiving corps led many to write off the Dolphins’ ability to move the ball through the air before the season started.

That was obviously premature and we imagine that teams watching film on Hartline now are more concerned with his ability to beat defenses deep than they are with the color of his skin.

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31 Responses to “Brian Hartline’s teammates think he’s underrated because he’s white”
  1. tcmiller30 says: Oct 11, 2012 8:43 AM

    I thought in this case you’re not supposed to underestimate the player, you just have to compare them to Wes Welker. Haha it seems whenever a white WR comes in that’s the first thing people mention.

  2. steelybills says: Oct 11, 2012 8:47 AM

    Didn’t we have this discussion about Jordy Nelson last year?

  3. shootscuz says: Oct 11, 2012 8:53 AM

    It’s actually kind of funny cause I heard a tv guy say the exact same thing about Eric Decker.

  4. lazershow15 says: Oct 11, 2012 9:04 AM

    Maybe it’s the fact that he’s been an average receiver at best throughout his entire career up to this point.

  5. dryzzt23 says: Oct 11, 2012 9:06 AM

    I agree, Hartline is overlooked and underrated solely b/c of his skin color. Conversely, many black WRs are overrated solely b/c of their skin color.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Brian and you will EARN the respect of the entire league.

  6. tannethrill says: Oct 11, 2012 9:08 AM

    4th round pick, Jeff Ireland.

    Might be time to at least consider the fact that Jeff Ireland does and has done an above average job.

  7. jacobslatter says: Oct 11, 2012 9:12 AM

    Those ham sammiches on Weber’s bread for lunch can do wonders for athleticism, can’t they :?:

  8. phinfan says: Oct 11, 2012 9:34 AM

    4th round pick, Jeff Ireland.

    Might be time to at least consider the fact that Jeff Ireland does and has done an above average job.

    Yeah every 30 picks he finds someone above average.

  9. baloneyjohn says: Oct 11, 2012 9:35 AM

    Come on. Just play the game. Let the results speak for themselves

  10. realityron says: Oct 11, 2012 9:35 AM

    There’s anti white sentiment throughout the league. All white WRs are supposed to be slow, plodding, over achievers. Problem is that guys like Nelson, Hartline, Welker, Walters, and Amendola didn’t get that memo. White RBs are almost always slated to play FB. Ask Mike Alstot, John Kuhn, Brian Leonard, and Jacob Hester. White DL & LB are always “high motor”, but never athletic, no matter how many sacks dudes like Allen, Mathews, Long, Barwin, Reid, or Babin rack up. White DBs always seem to be slated to play S, but never corner, and most of the time SS. Even though some of the greatest CBs ever were white. Anytime a black QB is treated unfairly we hear it, and rightfully so, and yet, any time a white player is overlooked or by passed, we sit quietly as not to appear racist. It’s time to realize that door swings both ways, and unfair is unfair, no matter the skin tone…

  11. reesesteel23 says: Oct 11, 2012 9:37 AM

    I dont think he’s overlooked and underrated SOLELY because of skin color. He had one monster game….I’ts SOLELY because he hasnt done anything….

  12. silvernblackpa says: Oct 11, 2012 9:44 AM

    I love the code words the media and even professional scouts use.

    “Deceptively fast” = White but speedy

    “Gritty” = white, largely untalented, but tries really hard

    “Cerebral” = white player who watches a lot of film

    “natural athlete who still works hard” = black player who watches a lot of film

  13. randallflagg52 says: Oct 11, 2012 9:51 AM

    When describing a white skill posisition player don’t forget to describe them as “scrappy” and my personal favorite “blue collar”.

  14. lostsok says: Oct 11, 2012 10:04 AM

    Unless a football player studied Sociology instead of Communications or Interpersonal Basket Weaving or some other athlete-friendly major…they’d be wise to keep the lid on that can of worms.

    Not only are race relations very complicated, they tend to bring out extremists on both ends.

    I think Tannehill was wise to shift from mild opinion to full-on boilerplate (“I don’t know if teams underestimate him or anything, but he’s making plays for us…”). Just leave this kind of discussion to Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olberman, and then–if you’re wise–ignore them both.

  15. handsatlanta says: Oct 11, 2012 10:25 AM

    Had this conversation about Hartline with a fellow season ticket holder the other day so I looked it up. Hartline’s 40 time was 4.52 — exactly the same as Brandon Marshall.

  16. pisstol says: Oct 11, 2012 10:27 AM

    While he may have good speed, he still goes to the ground to often after he catches the ball.

    If there was a GAC (Ground After Catch) stat, Hartline would be at or near the top.

  17. kurly00 says: Oct 11, 2012 10:40 AM

    The NFL is a results oriented league. If you promote someone on anything other than results you get what you deserve. Less than the best possible team and beat more often than you should.

    The coaches and GM’s know and practice this. The fans, media and players should follow suite.

    If you like to root for a guy that is from your alma mater, home town, same last name, dated your best friends girl friends hot sister or the color of skin that is up to you. Me the only colors I care about is Deep Steel Blue, Battle Red and Liberty White.

    Go Texans!!!!

  18. rexranius says: Oct 11, 2012 10:46 AM

    Funny, because white backs get over-hyped. Peyton Hillis, Kuuuuuuuhn, Danny Woodhead, and even Toby Gerhart.

  19. tfaulk says: Oct 11, 2012 11:17 AM

    “If there was a GAC (Ground After Catch) stat, Hartline would be at or near the top.”

    ESPN has Hartline with 119 YAC on 29 receptions for an average of 4.1 yds putting him in 20th place. This is better than A.J. Green ( 120 YAC on 36 recs = 3.3 yds avg), Brandon Marshall (127 YAC on 35 recs = 3.6 yds avg), and Victor Cruz (138 YAC on 37 recs = 3.7 yds avg).

    Try again, please.

  20. Nevis says: Oct 11, 2012 11:39 AM

    I agree with him. I don’t take white HBs, WRs or DBs as seriously strictly because of their race.

    Why should I? They are rarely as good, though of course there are exceptions.

  21. kennytarpon says: Oct 11, 2012 12:27 PM

    “Yeah every 30 picks he finds someone above average.”

    2007 – 4th round pick, Paul Soliai
    Brandon Fields was taken in the 7th round, may just be a Punter, but is arguably top 3 and does wonders for the Phins for putting the other team in awkward field positions.

    2008 – Jake Long taken in the first round, Philip Merling also taken the first round.
    Kendall Langford taken in the 3rd.

    2009 – Vontae Davis in the 1st, Sean Smith in the 2nd.
    Hartline in the 4th. Chris
    Clemons in the 5th, who is currently the starter at Safety. For someone who is much smaller than Bell, he hits just as hard.

    2010 – Jared Odrick in the 1st, Koa Misi in the 2nd (although the Misi pick will always look bad considering Rob Gronk was taken 2 picks later)
    Also, Reshad Jones in the 5th, who currently is the other starting safety.

    2011 – Mike Pounce in the first, Daniel Thomas in the 2nd.

    This year – Ryan Tannehill, who is off to a much better start than anticipated.
    Jon Martin hasn’t been the worst lineman.
    Lamar Miller in the 4th round, who has been making tons of plays when subbed in for Bush.

    He also brought in Dansby. Found Wake in the Canadian League. Found the undrafted Davone Bess. Developed Kevin Burnett into something productive.

    $50+ million in cap space next year and 3 picks in the top 45 (most likely). I think he’s done alright. It’s been slow, but it’s coming together.

  22. kennytarpon says: Oct 11, 2012 12:29 PM

    “I dont think he’s overlooked and underrated SOLELY because of skin color. He had one monster game….I’ts SOLELY because he hasnt done anything….”

    Make it a thing to watch a Phins game or two this year for once, look at how that man destroys his body to catch just about anything.

  23. mackie66 says: Oct 11, 2012 12:35 PM

    I agree Hartline hasnt done much, with good reason. Miami’s has-been QBs havent thrown him the ball very much. Hartline almost never drops the ball. Jeffery NEEDs to find another Wr with Hartlines ability, doesnt matter what color.

  24. officialmiamidolphinsspokesperson says: Oct 11, 2012 12:42 PM

    Funny how the ones using words like “Deceptively fast”,“Gritty”, and “Cerebral” and “blue collar” are the caucasian commentators, coaches and scouts. In my experiences, when a group or team of predominantly black players has a caucasian among them that accels or is better than them, the caucasian guy usually gets lifted up by major praise and major props for being a baller. No ones wrong here. just kinda noticed it.

  25. hehateme2 says: Oct 11, 2012 1:38 PM

    “If there was a GAC (Ground After Catch) stat, Hartline would be at or near the top.”

    Had to laugh at this one- and true. However, think back to Henne and Co. and that he had to work majic just to make the catch. He’s not used to having the ball in the proper place to continue to run afterwards…. what an idea!

  26. drainbameged says: Oct 11, 2012 3:35 PM

    kennytarpon you single handedly just change my opinion on Ireland….don’t forget he helped bring in Philbin.

  27. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 11, 2012 5:25 PM

    Has more to do with him being SLOW, not White.

  28. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 11, 2012 5:27 PM

    Unlike Jordy Nelson who is an “ATHA-LETE” and runs a 4.4.

  29. gsb333 says: Oct 11, 2012 10:11 PM

    This statement is racist. Dude is fast. Dude is having a good season. Enough said.

  30. tannethrill says: Oct 12, 2012 12:27 AM

    Thanks kennytarpon for clarifying those picks.

    Bush for Jon Amaya. Incognito and Starks have been solid FA signings as well. Bess as an undrafted FA.

    I would take away the Merling pick from your list but there’s still a few to add that are contributing.

    I’m very happy with who he’s brought in and the players he’s missed on at least seem to be high risk/reward type guys.

    He’s operating without mortgaging the future while some would say he’s on the hot seat. Ownership has at least instilled the confidence in him to operate absent the risk of termination and it’s allowed him to do it how he feels to be right no matter the timeline.

    From an ownership standpoint it’s a bit of a look away from the fans in terms of short term attendance but it’s in hopes of developing a winner that can sustain the test of time. That’s the only way a team’s value will rise so from Ross’s standpoint it’s a bit of a gamble but the fan support was low when he bought in anyway.

    I’ve waited this long so why not wait it out a little longer and see if when given time a GM can institute a plan. Standard used to be five years to build, turned to three at some point and now a number of things can cause the change of GMs in the NFL. Patience is key and although change may appease your fan base it won’t allow you to follow through on a plan.

    Frankly I was being modest in my first post in terms of above average. I truly believe he’s done a good job acquiring talent and if he’s got his finger on the pulse of his key players then he might have been around just long enough to make the right choice in their evolution of coaching in terms of shifting to a HC with an offensive mind.

    Can’t turn water into wine but you can drink the water and go pick some grapes, press them and wait for them to turn to wine. Hmmm, never tried Irish wine.

  31. allenjaymosley says: Oct 12, 2012 1:14 PM

    His color has nothing to do with him being underrated. He’s had 138 receptions and 6 TDs in 3 1/2 years. Due to the lack of a capable QB to get him the ball those years. Ryan Tannehill has brought the ability Hartline already had to the light. He just needed a QB not named Henne.

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