One Down; Last Man Standing

Categories: Sports
joe kapp.jpg
Chicano Joe Kapp lead Vikings to the Super Bowl
Remember Joe Kapp? The famous Latino quarterback long before the NFL was courting Latino viewers? With the Jets and Mark Sanchez out of the picture, Latinos won't have much  to root for come Super Bowl Sunday. 

Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez is sidelined with a season-long injury, and Jonathan Casillas, a Saints bench player, represents the only Latino who can conceivably clock in some game time in the Latin capitol of America. And unless the game is a blowout, there's little chance he'll step on the field.

That's too bad for the NFL media machine, which has been trying to cash in on a growing Latino audience -- viewership was up some 20 percent last year and up 34 percent among Latinas since 2007.

The Latin names on the NFL rosters have also gone up, from seven in 1989 to 24 this season.

Despite the increase, few have the star quality of some of the Latinos who played when their ethnicity wasn't such a big deal. (Outside of that SI cover, who knew a guy named Kapp who came down from Canada wasn't some white dude with a heavy tan?)

Kapp led the Vikings to the Superbowl in 1970 by tossing wobblers that managed to miraculously land in receivers' hands. (He's the last player to toss seven touchdowns in a game) And then there was Jim Plunkett, a Chicano quarterback from San Jose who won two Super Bowls for the Raiders under head coach Tom Flores, a fellow Latino.

And how 'bout the Dolphins Manny Fernandez, who was a contender for MVP in Super Bowl VII, despite playing on the defensive line.

And in case you were wondering, three players with Hispanic backgrounds have made it to the Hall of Fame -- Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, Tom Fears (the first wide receiver in NFL history when he lined up away from the tackle long before Munoz was born), and Ted Hendricks (who despite his name was born in Guatemala City.)

All of the above broke the old stereotype of Latinos as little bald guys who soccer-kicked field goals. In fact, there were only two kickers on NFL rosters this past season. (There were five offensive linemen, four linebackers, four pass catchers and three quarterbacks.)  

Pass the nachos.

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