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Bobby Burack: The sports media’s anti-Josh Allen bias is real

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From OutKick’s Bobby Burack

Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho reviewed the game tape of QB Josh Allen on Monday. Acho was impressed. He drew the conclusion that Allen’s “praise must be as loud as his criticism.

But it’s not. The criticism continues to far outpace the praise.

Allen played poorly against the Jets’ defense in Week 1. (Which, by the way, so did Patrick Mahomes against the same defense on Sunday.) And Allen heard about it from the media.

Stephen A. Smith called Josh Allen “no longer an elite QB.”

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Josh Allen talks to reporters

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen answers questions during an interview after the Bills lost to the New York Jets 22-16 in overtime of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Ryan Clark declared that the Bills could not win a Super Bowl with Allen.

New ESPN morning host Chris Canty said the Bills are not a playoff team with Josh Allen (despite making the playoffs with Josh Allen the past four seasons).

Kendrick Perkins accused the media of covering up Allen’s struggles.

“This damn Josh Allen man! He’s a walking turnover and people has more excuses for him than a brother going to jail. Carry the hell on,” Perkins posted on X.

Deadspin published an article also accusing Allen of benefiting from media favoritism.

Some ESPN reporter named  Kimberley A. Martin asked her fellow media colleagues to criticize Allen more often.

Nick Wright called Allen a low-end top 10 QB.

Robert Griffin III even claimed Allen hurts his team more than he helps it.

You get the point: the media announced itself out on Josh Allen after Week 1.

The negativity bestowed upon Allen is apoplectic and dishonest. Allen is not perfect. He turns the ball over too often. But if he’s not “elite,” no QB is elite other than Patrick Mahomes.

There are 32 teams in the NFL and at least 30 — other than maybe the Chiefs and Bengals — would walk to Buffalo in the winter-cold to have Allen as their QB.

To say the Bills would be better off without him, as several pundits did, suggests the analysts are football-challenged.

Josh Allen calls a play

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills calls a play in the huddle during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Highmark Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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The cartoonish scolding of Allen would be less telling if the same media pundits applied equally cartoonish praise of Allen following the weeks in which he’s among the best players in the NFL. Which is most weeks.

Allen has thrown 8 touchdowns and led his team to 123 points over the past three weeks. He now leads the league in completion percentage and is the betting favorite to win MVP.

But you wouldn’t know that from consuming the coverage of the NFL. In fact, folks like Stephen A. and Perkins have had little to say about Allen since Week 1.

You can quickly find reactions to any player on YouTube by searching for a particular day. Between official and bootleg accounts, hardly any segment from ESPN or FS1 goes unpublished.

Josh Allen throws

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills passes the ball against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

And yet Allen barely made the rundowns on Monday, despite knocking off the Miami Dolphins in blowout fashion with 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

The distorted coverage of Allen is not a blip. It’s been a career-long trend. It’s deliberate.

How do we know? Some of his harshest detractors have admitted so.

Domonique Foxworth is an ESPN “analyst.” His job is to be objective, to allow his biases to subside. However, he’s struggled to do so on the topic of Josh Allen. The topic is personal to him.

In 2020, Foxworth admitted that he openly roots for Allen to fail because Allen’s supporters are the kind of guys who have American flags and dogs attached to their profiles.

Seriously:

“I would be 100% lying if I said that when Josh does something dumb, a little part of me doesn’t get happy,” Foxworth said.

Imagine if Dan Orlovsky admitted that he roots for Lamar Jackson, whom Foxworth said the media needs to cover more “carefully” than white QBs, to fail.

There would be protesters outside Orlovsky’s homes. Foxworth would be one of them.

So would Bomani Jones.

Last year, Jones argued that Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson “tear America apart” across racial lines. He suggested black people, like himself, root against Allen and white people root against Jackson.

Well, there’s no proof that white media members root against Jackson. The most prominent white NFL voices — Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Scott Van Pelt, Dan Patrick — are known supporters of his.

However, Jones is right that it appears black NFL voices — as we provided above — do not want Josh Allen to succeed.

Perhaps therein lies the one-sidedness of the conversation.

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Josh Allen takes the field

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills takes the field prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

The NFL media has become increasingly dependent upon the opinions of former players. There are fewer former journalists on television. Other than Mina Kimes, most “analysts” played in the NFL.

And because the NFL is a majority-black league, the vast majority of TV analysts on ESPN and FS1 are black. Or as Bomani would put it, critics of Josh Allen.

That’s point No. 1.

Second, the media has grossly racialized the QB conversation, particularly during debates regarding a white and black QBs.

And Josh Allen is frequently subjected to comparisons to black QBs, for one reason or another.

As Bomani notes, Allen is synonymous with Lamar Jackson. Allen and Jackson both came into the league with raw skills but unrivaled athletic talent, and quickly exceeded expectations.

Josh Allen was often compared to Patrick Mahomes following a 2022 playoff shootout in which he looked every bit as special as Mahomes.

Recently, the media has contrasted Allen to Dak Prescott with the narrative that they both turnover the ball but only Allen gets a pass.

“Everyone has been giving Dak Prescott all the smoke this off-season about the turnovers. No one gives Josh Allen smoke. What we saw last night was a travesty and it’s something that Josh Allen has done throughout his whole career is turn the football over,” said Damien Woody to a nodding Foxworth:

The difference is, of course, Allen is dynamic and better than Prescott. But never let the facts get in the way of a good race bait. Woody would never.

One could argue the racially-charged crusade against Allen originated on draft night in 2018, when a group of journalists dug up and saved old tweets from Allen’s teenage years in which he used the n-word.

The writers published those posts just hours before the start of the draft, with the apparent intention to damage Allen’s draft stock.

Clay Travis and Will Cain spoke about the campaign to frame Allen as a racist in 2021, when the media re-cited the same tweets during his breakout NFL season:

“The damage, to some degree, is already done when the writer writes the story,” said Will.

“The writer has already impacted the player’s life. When they did it to Josh Allen, Josh Allen then had to go walk into the Bills’ locker room and prove that he is NOT a racist. That’s what that writer did to him by bringing up those tweets.”

Ultimately, Josh Allen has been culture war-ed. Allen is who the media claims Lamar Jackson is: the subject of a racial bias.

Pundits denigrate Allen to uplift the QBs they champion.

He’s no different than Nikola Jokic, whom the NBA media exploited last season as a means to stoke social hysteria.

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For those reasons, the consensus praise for Allen will never be as loud as the criticism. At least not by a media that has cast Josh Allen as the poster child for the privileged white QB.



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