As you might have heard from a media outlet or two, this is a historic Super Bowl because it features two African American head coaches for the first time. The odds are good that this might be a topic over the next few days.
We decided to dig deep into this story, rather than just let it simmer, so we asked our friend The Assimilated Negro, author of the Ghetto Pass column for Gawker and occasional Free Darko correspondent, to file a series of reports about the Negro Bowl, its significance and whatever else might tickle his proverbial fancy. This will run in five installments leading up to the Super Bowl. Here's the third one. The graphic is by the great Jim Cooke, by the way.
CHICAGO — Only days before the historic Negro Bowl I, it appears NFL "officials" have removed Lovie Smith, the head coach, and Rex Grossman, the quarterback, from their respective positions on the Chicago Bears and replaced them with the recently retired Bill Parcells and recently mortified Tony Romo. While these "officials" have thus far remained anonymous, their apparent "hire-fire" power indicates they are likely Caucasian, hire-fire authority being something that is rarely given to Negroes.
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The Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was unavailable to the press, but one anonymous official said he could be called "The Manager" and later added, "the 'ager' part is silent."
In explaining the decision to the media, the official, who only manifested as a booming voice over the PA system, expressed some remorse about the decision. "This was obviously a difficult decision at this time of year, a few days before the biggest game, but that's exactly why the decision had to be made," he said. "The Bears want to put their best foot forward, and with most oddsmakers having us as touchdown underdogs, clearly the general consensus was that we weren't going to get it done. We couldn't just sit back idly and let that happen, especially if we're in a position to do something about it."
The voice continued on, stressing that "race had nothing to do with anything." The voice explained, "We would have loved to been part of Negro Bowl I, but we can't put that in front of our ultimate goal of winning Super Bowl XLI. Bill Parcells is a Hall of Fame coach, and he's available. He's won the Super Bowl before. He hasn't had a 5-10 record since 1993; Lovie Smith, on the other hand, put up a five-win stinker just two years ago. Sometimes the choice that breaks your heart also makes the most sense."
Many players declined to speak, saying they didn't want to let "Media Week rigmarole" distract them from the task at hand. But some high profile names offered some remarks on the record.
The Bears starting running back Thomas Jones noted,"look, I think it's a questionable decision. But all I know is if you give me [looks over towards Cedric Benson] 20-25 carries a game, we can control this game."
Cedric Benson, who often shares carries with Jones, responded similarly. "That's bad how they did Lovie like that, but we have to stay focused. It's the Bears vs. The Colts. And all I know if you can get me [looks over at Thomas Jones] 20-25 carries a game, we can control the game on the ground.
Brian Urlacher, the sensitive star middle linebacker, seemed to be most affected by the news. "Look, I'm tired of the 'overrated' talk. I'm a good LB, OK? Obviously anyone's going to miss Tommie Harris. And sure teams are running on us, but I'm good, OK? And I'm fast! JESUS, JUST GET OFF MY BACK ALREADY!"
The object of all this attention, Lovie Smith, was in church with his family and could not be reached for comment.
Tony Dungy, a good friend of Smith's, was surprisingly muted. "It's a shame, obviously Lovie's a great friend." He also may have muttered, "but at least they brought in a Romo, not a Homo," but the exact quote was indecipherable.
Nevertheless, the quip was indicative of the contrasting responses over the move. A lot of bittersweet remorse over losing Smith, but the reaction to losing Grossman was much more tepid, and in some places perhaps, appreciative.
The disembodied voice that held the press conference closed in saying, "While removing Lovie was tough, after all, no one likes being a racist. The quarterback was kind of a no-brainer, and really empowered us to go ahead with a difficult decision. Tony Romo is a Pro Bowl quarterback, and has possibly canoodled with Jessica Simpson. Rex Grossman is, well, white. The Bears have a good holder on field goal attempts, so we think Tony will do great. In fact we'd like to think that while the black community at large may feel a little disenfranchised by our intervention, we are delighted to point out that while they lost an African-American head coach, they have gained a kinda-sorta black quarterback. Between him and African-American hero Peyton Manning, we think the Negro community is well represented and has a lot to be proud of."
Peyton Manning, who was caught between film sessions when hearing about the announcement, just smiled. "Hey, works for me, I got enough monkeys on my back."
The cast-off quarterback Rex Grossman was spotted in the parking lot, seemingly talking trash to a group of school children. When asked if his pride was hurt, he was defiant, "This is not a big deal to me. I know I have a Super Bowl arm." Grossman then picked up a nearby football and pointed to a garbage can about sixty yards away, "See that garbage can? Watch this." After Grossman's toss hit a woman walking her dog, more than 80 yards to the left of the garbage can, the children disassembled. Grossman had no further comment.
There were some fans and celebrities gathered around Soldier Field not long after the news. Superuberstar and Chicago native Kanye West was very vocal about his displeasure with the move. "The NFL commissioner doesn't care about black people. That's why I should have been the commissioner," West said. "I played pee-wee football as a kid. I was pretty good. And last year I gave Paul Tagliabue two million dollars and a Ralph Lauren cardigan so that I could take over for him. And I still didn't get the job. That's bullshit. And that's why shit like this happens. Because I'm not in charge."
West's new song "Dungy Walks (Smooth Jazz Remix)" is slated for release the day after the Super Bowl.
Opinions were varied amongst the other fans who congregated One fan, who also happens to be a marketer for network television said, "I can't lie. I love it. Negro Bowl I was exciting. But this is even better. Dungy vs. Parcells sets up an epic battle of the races. Race Bowl I: Bring Out the Chains. I can't wait to get the new commercials up."
Another fan, white, said, "Well, this Super Bowl was starting to feel a little affirmative action-y anyways. Setting it up so that a black person can't help but win seems a little unfair to white people."
The prevailing sentiment was one of suspicion however; the last person we spoke to summed it up simply, "I don't know, this smells fishy. Actually, not quite fish, it smells more like onion."