Former NFL Player Booger McFarland Doubles Down on Comments About African-American Players

When speaking on ESPN about the Washington Football Team's Monday decision to release quarterback Dwayne Haskins, former NFL defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland called on young players—and specifically young African-American players—to work harder and treat playing football as a "serious business."

Some people are taking issue with the fact that McFarland singled out young African-American players during the Monday Night Countdown segment, but McFarland is doubling down on his statements.

My message was to all players which I said but specifically to the part of the NFL that’s makes up almost 70% the AA players. And of course I’m not speaking to ALL but in my 20+ years around the NFL I’ve seen to many cases. I stand by what I said whether u agree or disagree

— Booger (@ESPNBooger) December 29, 2020

In a Monday tweet featuring the Monday Night Countdown video, McFarland argued that he only mentioned African-American players specifically because they make up 70 percent of the NFL. He also further defended his stance by noting that he wasn't talking about every African-American player. "My message was to all players which I said but specifically to the part of the NFL that's makes up almost 70% the AA players. And of course I'm not speaking to ALL but in my 20+ years around the NFL I've seen to many cases. I stand by what I said whether u [sic] agree or disagree," he tweeted.

In the TV segment, McFarland called out issues that he believes get in the way of many young football players—in particular, their sense of priorities.

"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 I get my organization over the hump?'" McFarland said. "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.'"

Booger continued, saying, "It bothers me, because a lot of it is the young African-American players. They come in, and they don't take this like a business. It is still a game to them. This ain't football, man. This is a billion-dollar business. It's billions of dollars."

He closed his monologue by telling NFL players to really consider what's at stake in their profession. "My message to Dwayne Haskins—not just him, but the rest of the young players in the NFL—man, this is a game, but take it as a business. There are billions—with a 'b'—of dollars at stake, and until you start approaching this game that way, until you start coming to work coming to work, saying, 'Y'know what? What can I do to get better today? What can I do to make sure my teammates are better today? How can I put my organization first instead of my damn Instagram?' Take it as a serious business, but too many times, it's a game. 'We wanna TikTok. We wanna do all these different things.' Man, do you know how much money is at stake?" McFarland said.

While some people understood the sentiment that McFarland was trying to get across, they also took exception with him making it a point to say these issues are particularly a problem for young African-American players. Some Twitter users noted that there have also been white quarterbacks who have had their fair share of controversies and off-field antics that have negatively affected their careers. Former NFL player Benjamin Watson weighed in and said that despite Booger's great football analyses, these statements "can't be taken seriously."

Booger is a stellar analyst IMO but anytime we resort to “they” language, criminalize ethnicity, ignore generational gaps (everyone is on IG now even the Clubs), and encourage business but not branding while claiming it’s a child’s game it can’t be taken seriously. Really Common

— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) December 29, 2020

“Dwayne Haskins unfortunately is not the first case that I’ve seen like this. It bothers me because a lot of it is the young African-American player”

I disagree with Booger.

Why bring race into this? White players/athletes screw up too.

Your thoughts?

— Scott Abraham (@ScottABC7) December 29, 2020

Booger McFarland’s comments were completely asinine. If he hadn’t inserted ‘young African Americans’ his comments might not have invited as much anger. Haskins’ behavior is indicative of his youth not his race.

— Ethel’s Daughter (@DaughterEthel) December 29, 2020

Booger going off on Haskins like white QBs have never done the same. Johnny Manziel, Ryan Leaf and Todd Marinovich just to name a few. Black QBs in the league right now are some of the best. Needs to get off his high horse. This isn't a "AA" problem. Some people just can't cut it

— T-New Year🥂🎆🎉 (@TPriest71) December 29, 2020

Several people online also noted that athletes do need to be concerned with building a brand of their own. Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted, "Things are different than they were and it's not a bad thing for a guy to be more than an athlete."

Who is to say athletes can’t ball and be concerned about their brand? This isn’t your era of ball. Things are different than they were and it’s not a bad thing for a guy to be more than an athlete.

— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) December 29, 2020

There have been some people, though, that feel Booger is trying to get across a helpful message. Pro-wrestler The Iron Sheik gave respect, and former NFL player George Wrighster III responded to tweets, too, saying that while McFarland shouldn't have mentioned race, he is still relaying an important message and that he probably made the comments about race accidentally, in the heat of passion.


— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) December 29, 2020

That’s not how I took Boogers comments. I think he was trying to relay to dudes, this is a business and needs to be treated w/respect bcuz you don’t have the equal rope. But the element of race was not needed. I played with white dudes w/same issue.

— George Wrighster III (@georgewrighster) December 29, 2020

I can see that point. Sometimes guys get passionate about a topic in the moment and the thought hasn’t been fully flushed and a mess up happens. Haskins didn’t let the race down he let himself down

— George Wrighster III (@georgewrighster) December 29, 2020

McFarland declined Newsweek's request for further comment.

Anthony Booger McFarland NFL ESPN
ESPN commentator Booger McFarland walks off the field prior to the game between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 3, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell Leff/Getty