Shannon Sharpe doesn’t see a bias issue in the 2023 NFL Draft after Deion Sanders spoke out against the lack of HBCU representation.
Only one player was selected from an HBCU in this year’s draft, cornerback Isaiah Bolden out of Jackson State, where Sanders coached from 2020-22. Bolden was picked by the New England Patriots in the seventh round, No. 245 overall. Following the draft, Sanders claimed Bolden deserved to be selected higher, adding that he was “ashamed” by the other 31 NFL teams that didn’t select an HBCU player.
So proud is you @isaiahbolden23 You deserved to be drafted much higher but I’m truly proud of u. I know how much u want this. I’m ashamed of the 31 other @nfl teams that couldn’t find draft value in ALL of the talented HBCU players & we had 3 more draft worthy players at JSU. pic.twitter.com/BfEm3zIGPH
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) April 30, 2023
“So proud is you @isaiahbolden23 You deserved to be drafted much higher but I’m truly proud of u,” Sanders tweeted. “I know how much u want this. I’m ashamed of the 31 other @nfl teams that couldn’t find draft value in ALL of the talented HBCU players & we had 3 more draft worthy players at JSU.”
Sanders was a bit vague in sharing his concern and stopped short of claiming NFL teams hold a racial bias against players from HBCU schools, although it was certainly implied in his tweet. Monday morning on FS1’s Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe, who attended an HBCU, pushed back on the implication from Sanders.
Unc Shannon Sharpe on Deion Sanders being ashamed only 1 HBCU player was drafted pic.twitter.com/xaGB2Vbut1
— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) May 1, 2023
“The NFL is a business. The NFL doesn’t give a damn what color you are,” Sharpe told co-host Skip Bayless. “They don’t care. They want to win. Pro sports is a bottom line business. The only things that are on the menu, wins and losses. Now how many guys can we get who can help us win? I don’t give a damn of their color.”
According to Sharpe, those biases may have existed in the past, but the NFL is now a meritocracy that welcomes talent from anywhere. As recently as the 2021 NFL Draft, Max Kellerman alleged the NFL held a racial bias against Black players, noting the top three quarterbacks picked were white guys. But that narrative was harder to support near the top of the 2023 Draft, with Sharpe highlighting that the first ten players selected were Black, and four of the first five quarterbacks taken were Black.
“What am I missing?” Sharpe asked. “There was once upon a time that was the case. Not just at HBCUs, there were Black quarterbacks that were good enough to play in the NFL that got overlooked…I’m gonna disagree with Prime on this one. I believe if the guys were talented enough to get drafted, I believe they would have gotten drafted.”