If Brian Flores, Duce Staley, Eric Bienemy and Byron Leftwich were all in a group chat, I’d pay good money to read the things they’d probably say about how horrific Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels have been this season.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers lost 29-17 to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, you might have recognized Brian Flores was on the sidelines. He’s serving as Pittsburgh’s senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach because that’s the only job he could get due to his class-action lawsuit against the NFL for its racist hiring practices.
Flores — joined by Ray Horton and Steve Wilks — are standing up for the Staleys, Bieniemys, and Leftwichs of the world, as they’re sick of being underpaid and overlooked when it comes to the hiring process, while bums like Hackett and McDaniels — and many others — keep getting opportunities to show us how underqualified and mediocre they are at coaching football.
Despite all that’s been written and discussed regarding the decades-long plight of Black coaches in the NFL, this past week has been a clear example of just how intentional the blackballing of Black coaches has historically been, which has only been heightened by how laughable coaches like Hackett and McDaniels have been the last few weeks.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post released its series on how the NFL blocks Black coaches. It’s an examination of just how much hate and racism have always been in the NFL’s DNA, which has led to the unfair hiring practices we see on the sidelines and in front offices today.
Check out this part from WaPo columnist Jerry Brewer:
“The descendants of four owners who were part of the Black exile still control franchises. George Halas paid $100 for the Bears in 1920. Tim Mara spent $500 on the Giants in 1925. Charles Bidwill put down $50,000 for the Cardinals in 1932. Art Rooney was charged a $2,500 fee for an expansion Pittsburgh franchise in 1933. Although they made Black players disappear for a dozen years, they left their families with integrated teams now worth billions.”
Another section of the Post’s report goes on to discuss how the analysis of three decades of data has shown that since 1990 only 11 percent of full-time head coaches have been Black, as there have been 154 White coaches during that time frame compared to just 20 Black men. It also revealed that Black coaches who win at least nine games are fired just as often as White coaches who only win at least six. The numbers have always been there. However, they’ve become even more important when you see what’s happening on the field.
In Week 1, Hackett decided to kick a 64-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-5 with Russell Wilson — a Super Bowl-winning quarterback that the Broncos just decided to pay $245 million.
He followed that up in Week 2 with a cluster of head-scratching time management snafus and even let his tight end run the option. Denver sits at 1-1 as they’ve scored 16 points in both of their games. And the only thing that the head coach of one of the most disappointing teams in the league had to say was, “I need to do better making decisions, faster and quicker and getting that information to the quarterback.”
And in the case of McDaniel, he’s leading a winless Raiders team that just made history by giving up the biggest lead the franchise has ever witnessed. Somehow, Las Vegas lost to Arizona after leading 23-7 going into the fourth quarter. They would go on to lose as the Cardinals scored 22 unanswered points, winning the game on a 59-yard fumble return in overtime. In his two stints as a head coach (McDaniels led the Broncos from 2009-10), McDaniels has a combined record of 11-19, but still somehow has a job.
Black coaches don’t get opportunities like this. They’re not allowed to suck as badly as Nathaniel Hackett, or get rehired like Josh McDaniels — who has proven that he’s better as a coordinator. On Sunday, some of you will probably be wondering why your team sucks or isn’t playing up to its ability. Well, this week answered your questions, as it showed us once again that NFL owners would rather lose with white coaches than win with Black ones.