Nathaniel Hackett is the latest example of NFL owners getting it wrong with white (and Black) coaches

Hackett is the eighth coach to be fired during or after the season since 2021

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The Broncos parted ways with Nathaniel Hackett this weekend.
The Broncos parted ways with Nathaniel Hackett this weekend.
Image: Getty Images

Have you ever seen that classic gif/meme of the confused woman trying to figure out an equation in her head? Well, that’s what NFL owners look like when deciding on a coach.

Denver fired Nathaniel Hackett as its head coach after the Broncos lost 51-14 to the Los Angeles Rams on Jesus’ birthday. It took until Week 16 for the Broncos’ front office to see what we’ve seen from Day One — that Hackett was atrocious at his job and shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

During the late-night version of SportsCenter on Monday night, ESPN put up a stat that showed just how bad Hackett’s 4-11 record was, as his team was last in the league in scoring (15.5 points per game), last in third-down percentage (29 percent), and tied for the most one-score losses (8). Along with having the shortest tenure a head coach has ever had in Denver that wasn’t serving as an interim, the Broncos also fired Special Teams Coordinator Dwayne Stukes and Offensive Line Coach Butch Barry. It’s so bad that when the interim job was offered to the team’s defensive coordinator — Ejiro Evero — even he didn’t want it.

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“Moving forward, we will carefully evaluate every aspect of our football operations and make whatever changes are necessary to restore this franchise’s winning tradition,” Broncos brass laughably wrote in a statement.

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Somewhere along the way, people fell for the idea that the billionaire owners want to win in whatever league their teams play in. It’s a false narrative, especially when history has shown us that generally, only a handful of franchises have consistently won over the years, proving that it’s a slim number of owners that are willing to do what it takes to compete and win. For the most part, these franchises serve as shiny toys or tax breaks for billionaire nerds whose only status in life has been connected to their money.

Don’t think so?

Well, the irony of Hackett getting fired when he did is the latest evidence that owners have no idea what they’re doing.

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Just last week, the league notified owners that they’ve spent $800 million on coaches and front-office executives over the last five years that don’t even work for them anymore. The Giants are the worst of the bunch, as they’re currently paying three different coaching staffs. Last week was also when the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Jets on Thursday Night Football to put them in first place in the AFC South, and they’re in the playoff hunt just a year after team owner Shad Khan made a horrible decision in hiring Urban Meyer, who was fired after going 2-11 and physically attacking a player.

Just hours after Hackett was fired in Denver, Jeff Saturday’s horrendous tenure as an interim head coach hit another low as the Colts lost 20-3 to the Chargers on Monday Night Football, giving Saturday his fifth-straight loss. And to make things worse, Colts owner Jim Irsay still believes in him.

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“Head coach is unknown until the interview process goes forward,” Irsay inexplicably said. “Jeff, I believe, is an outstanding candidate.”

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With Black Monday only a few weeks away, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is believed to be part of the group that will be fired on the annual day on which head coaches get their walking papers. If that happens, it means that McDaniels will be the third person to wear a headset for the Raiders since 2021.

The mismanagement and bad decision-making by owners are why turnover is high, and job security is low for head coaches in this league. Owners would rather lose with people they know than win with people outside of their comfort zones — which has proven to be expensive. Brian Flores, Ray Horton, and Steve Wilks shouldn’t just be suing the league for its alleged racist hiring practices, it should also add incompetence to the lawsuit.