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Gerhart unhappy that his race has become an issue

Last month Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports broke two stories about two NFL draft prospects who were asked questions by teams that would have been considered completely out of bounds in an interview for almost any other job.

One of those was about Miami Dolphins G.M. Jeff Ireland asking Dez Bryant if his mom was a prostitute. The other was about teams asking Toby Gerhart if being a white running back made him feel entitled.

The Gerhart story didn’t create quite the media firestorm that the Bryant story did, but it still bothers Gerhart that people are trying to pigeonhole him as a white running back, and not just a running back.

It’s kind of frustrating because I’m completely neutral towards it,” Gerhart told the Star Tribune. “I don’t see it as an issue. I downplay it if anybody asks me. I’m a running back. That article kind of blew up and everybody started saying, ‘Oh, you are an advocate or you’re speaking out against whatever.’ I’m like, ‘No, I don’t see it that way.’”

Gerhart says people sometimes assume that he’s a fullback -- not a tailback -- simply because of the color of his skin. In reality, Gerhart is an explosive runner who came in second place in Heisman Trophy voting last year and isn’t projected as a fullback in the NFL.

In fact, Vikings coach Brad Childress says, Gerhart is the kind of athlete who’d be more likely to play wide receiver than fullback.

“Don’t put him in a box,” Childress said. “He might be split wide like a foot from the sideline.”

If he is split a foot from the sideline, we’ll no doubt start to hear from some quarters that Gerhart is a Wes Welker clone. But Gerhart wishes people would see beyond race and just call him a football player.