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Racism and NFL Coaching

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I know it is not shocking that a bunch of white billionaire Republicans who own NFL teams are racist as fuck, but my god are they racist as fuck. With very few exceptions, they just can’t get over the idea of a Black man as a head coach or an offensive coordinator (which is the primary though not exclusive pipeline to head coaching jobs). And if they do hire one once and it doesn’t work out, well good luck getting them to do that again.

Meanwhile, there’s really nothing wrong with Carolina hiring Frank Reich as head coach. He definitely deserved another shot. A recent poll of NFL insiders placed Reich with DeMeco Ryans as the best coaching hires of this cycle. I believe it. Moreover, Reich has surrounded himself with really good people, including Duce Staley as Assistant Head Coach and not one, but two, Black coordinators, with Thomas Howard on offense and Ejiro Evero as defensive coordinator.

Still, given the average NFL coaching hire, the fact that Steve Wilks had no real chance to keep that job full time after vastly improving the team after unqualified white college hack Matt Ruhle completely bombed, was telling and frustrating for a lot of people. That Eric Bieniemy still can’t get a head coaching job is even more ridiculous. What more do you want? Meanwhile, the two coordinators for the Eagles who Bieniemy just kicked ass against are now head coaches. Then there is Byron Leftwich. The last two years, he was in the head coaching conversation. Now, having led an offense of old and tired players in Tampa for one bad year, not only is he out of a job there but he presently lacks a job at all. It’s just systemic racism.

At The Athletic, Tashan Reed, who happens to hail from Ferguson, Missouri of all places, has a multi-part podcast on racism in NFL coaching. I don’t know if I will get to the podcast, as I am terrible about listening to them, but the summary says most of what you need to know:

Over the course of 16 months, I conducted more than two dozen interviews with NFL players, coaches and executives, media members who covered the league and other figures who’ve joined the push for change: former Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, Hall of Fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson, Commanders coach Ron Rivera, Falcons GM Terry Fontenot, Raiders president Sandra Douglass Morgan, Commanders president Jason Wright, NFL Network reporters Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter, HBO and ESPN’s Bomani Jones, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II and Tim Kawakami and Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director Rod Graves, among others.

“Between the Lines” will work its way up the NFL’s organizational structure, from players to coaches to executives. Along the way, it’ll show how Black people at each level have become more comfortable putting pressure on the league to improve how it handles issues of race and diversity.

“Those of us who do believe that diversity is not just a moral imperative, but it’s actually what’s best for the business … it is incumbent upon us to sort of spread the gospel,” Wright said. “I’m done trying to change people’s racist mindsets or biased mindsets. That’s a much harder effort … to heal the deeper spiritual, psycho-spiritual wounds that we have as a nation. I want people to understand that diversity creates better businesses.”

In the end, “Between the Lines” will question whether change is feasible. And, ultimately, it’ll highlight how the onus for change falls on a very small group.

“It’s all about ownership,” Williams said. “It rests with 32 people.”

And those 32 people? They are mostly very racist people.

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