It wasn’t a coincidence. It was evidence.
Months after Brian Flores, Ray Horton, and Steve Wilks came together to sue the NFL for its racist hiring practices, a Week 10 matchup between two of the league’s worst teams in Las Vegas wound up proving that taking legal action against the biggest and baddest league in the country was a worthy gamble.
When Josh McDaniels’ Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) fell to Jeff Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1) 25-20 inside Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, it wasn’t just another bad loss for a bad team led by a horrible coach whose resume has also shown that he’s incapable of running his own team — it was a three-plus hour indictment on the whitewashing of the position of head coach in the NFL.
Only in this country could a white coach with a terrible track record compete against a white coach who was making his coaching debut in a game that didn’t include teenagers, while the league is being taken to court for situations just like this one, and it’s broadcast on CBS for millions to watch. It was the perfect example of how America works and this country’s obsession with mediocrity.
For those of you that get angry when you hear terms like “white privilege,” let me explain it for you — unless you’re just in denial…which you probably are. It doesn’t mean that white people live a life that’s problem free. It simply means that there are advantages that white people enjoy because of the color of their skin. We’re not blaming you for it. We’re asking you to own it and acknowledge it when it so often occurs.
For instance, white privilege was on full display in the Colts/Raiders game because, if Saturday and McDaniels were Black, they wouldn’t have been hired in the first place. Failing up and being chosen for jobs without a resume is a phenomenon that’s solely experienced by white people, especially if they’re men. This is why Skip Bayless thinks he can be a competent general manager in the NFL, which isn’t crazy after seeing that it just happened a few years ago. Mike Mayock left TV in 2018 to become the Raiders GM to work with Jon Gruden — another flagrant example of white privilege. We would later find out that Gruden is a racist, homophobe, and a misogynist, and was given a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach after a successful run on television that was all due to winning a single Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, with a team that was built by their former head coach — Tony Dungy, a Black man.
No one is mad at Saturday for taking a position that Jim Irsay was dumb enough to offer him. We’re upset that something this insane could even happen, and that Saturday still refuses to blatantly own the fact that he shouldn’t be here, as his race is the sole reason why he has a headset. There’s a reason why Irsay didn’t hire Reggie Wayne.
Not only was Sunday’s game (which featured a man who used to coach high school and another that’s lost 24 of his last 31 games as an NFL head coach) a slap in the face to every Black head coach, Black coordinator, or Black man or woman of color that’s ever aspired to lead their own team, it spat in the face of every coach that’s ever worn a headset on an NFL sideline — regardless of their race.
There used to be a blueprint for coaches in the NFL. In the past, if you were Black, being a defensive coordinator was the way to become a head coach. That changed when an emphasis was put on the offensive side of the ball, yet Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy and Tampa’s Byron Leftwich are still waiting on their opportunities. For white coaches, there were two avenues to success: Be a respected veteran with experience, or be a young innovative mind that was a copycat version of one the most successful coaches of that era, i.e. the next Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, or Sean McVay.
That’s over now.
When Jeff Saturday beat Josh McDaniels on Sunday, it broke the ladder of success for all coaches in the NFL. Now, it’s about being the guy that an owner likes the most without even knowing what those characteristics may be. You could be working on a sideline as an assistant or simply talking about the game on TV. And despite the lack of experience you may have and how crazy all of this may sound, you’ll still probably wind up winning your first game due to the way that owners are hiring coaches on a whim. Because if Jeff Saturday can do it, then anyone can. And you can even call your own shot.