A Conversation with HBCU Football Analyst Jay Walker – The Undefeated


Analysis This is a daily question-and-answer session with African American college football broadcasters and analysts during The Undefeated Fall TV Week.

Howard University graduate Jay Walker is an ESPN college football analyst and a staple of the historically black college and university network coverage (The Undefeated is part of ESPN). He played quarterback for the Bisons and was selected in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Walker also played for the Minnesota Vikings and the Barcelona Dragons of the World Football League. These days, the California native splits his time between calling HBCU games and serve in the Maryland Delegate House – you can often find him on an airplane reading documents for the State Ways and Means Committee. Ahead of the Sept. 17 game between Howard and Hampton, Walker spoke about calling games, the need for more black announcers, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s right as an American to take a stand. against racial injustice.

Broadcaster – but also state legislator. How to balance the roles?

It’s a pretty healthy balance – and politics for me is like sports. I’m back in the locker room. You’ve got a defensive lineman, an offensive lineman, wide receivers, you’re all trying to come together for the betterment of the team. But sometimes they think you need to make it run more, others think you need to run it more. Same thing with politics. My athletic background has helped me in my job as a state legislator.

Do you think there is value in broadcasters being former players?

There is. My biggest concern is that I think the old player is underutilized. There are some things that we know and can understand, that a guy who hasn’t played this sport doesn’t know. You can talk about a quarterback missing a pass, but until you’ve actually looked at a linebacker knowing you’re going to get hit and still throw the ball? Easier said than done. So there are a lot of niceties that I believe athletes bring to the table.

“My biggest concern is that I think the former player is underutilized.”

What’s the biggest difference between calling a game HBCU and calling a Power 5 game?

The amount of talk you have to do. When you make an HBCU game, sometimes you just won’t have the noise of the crowd to carry it, and no one likes to watch TV and there is nothing to say. But I took that and made it an advantage. I tell more stories. At HBCU, it doesn’t all have to depend on what you see on the pitch, the plays. This is what is happening in the rest of the stadium. Where was the tailgate? Where did you go to eat Who did you run into? What legends? The bigger games, you kind of let the game do the talking the most. While in an HBCU, in the booth, we try to create a little more atmosphere.

What is the best part of HBCU football?

These are not the groups like everyone says. The biggest part is seeing hungry guys. They have these big dreams – I was in their shoes. They want it and want to do it. At the end of the day, let’s not forget that you are looking at 100 African American men who are going to graduate from college, hopefully, and enter the workforce and be the next leaders of tomorrow. It is something that you can be proud of. You see the hunger there and the work that these coaches do to try to shape these young men.

Jemele Hill (l) and Jay Walker on the set of His & Hers.

Randy Sager / ESPN Images

How would you assess the state of representation of blacks in sports broadcasting?

Phew. We need more. Will he ever be perfect? Probably not. I know for play-by-play… there aren’t a lot of African-American play-by-play guys. So this is something that needs to be addressed. There’s a whole generation behind us who probably won’t have this conversation in 10 or 15 years, hopefully.

“At HBCU, it doesn’t necessarily depend on what you see on the pitch… It’s what happens in the rest of the stadium.”

What do you think is the next step for Kaepernick and the other NFL players who have taken a stand on the national anthem?

It’s time to see the results. If you just take a stand, people think it’s for publicity. It’s not going anywhere. But if you take the money and put it in a legal defense fund or deal with families who have been victimized because of some of the senseless crimes that he thinks to have been committed, then it will do a lot of harm. path. . I know in the locker room it’s probably like, ‘OK, we just stood there. We have taken a stand with you. What’s going to come out of it? At the moment, he is an activist. I think he has to become a resultist. Once you start to see results then I think we can judge if everything was for the right thing.

Do you think Kaepernick’s willingness to speak out could reverberate at the university level?

It must. I think it will change America. The University of Missouri football team, they started something last year. The Northwestern football team, they said they wanted to unionize so they could get paid. Grambling said they weren’t going to play a game because they didn’t like the way their athletes were treated. I think the key is that you have to be responsible for the platform that you have. Colin Kaepernick is in the NFL. He has a platform, which is about six years old. So he’s using the platform he currently has, which is unlikely to be any bigger than it is now for the rest of his life. I congratulate him on it. He knew what he was doing. Because if he was a former football player, he wouldn’t get that attention. But because he’s a current National Football League quarterback, he’s attracting attention. He knows it and he uses his platform, which every American has the right to do.

Aaron Dodson is a sports and culture writer at The Undefeated. He mainly writes about sneakers / clothing and hosts the platform’s “Sneaker Box” video series. During Michael Jordan’s two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s, the Air Jordan 9 “Flint” sparked his passion for kicking.

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