Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Only players, not league rules, can stop NFL owners from racist practices

Illustration for article titled Only players, not league rules, can stop NFL owners from racist practices
Illustration: Eric Barrow/Deadspin

The “F” in NFL stands for fraud.

The latest example was announced on Tuesday.

Somehow, with a straight face and a lame press release, the league announced new incentives for mostly white owners to hire a mostly Black workforce as head coaches and front office executives.

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They approved a resolution that will “reward” teams with draft picks if one of their minority coaches or personnel people is hired to be a head coach or general manager.

The prize? Teams will receive two third-round compensatory draft picks if someone from their franchise is hired or promoted to a head coach job or GM gig.

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Coming into this season, there were just four minority head coaches (Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, Chargers’ Anthony Lynn, Dolphins’ Brian Flores and Wsahington’s Ron Rivera) and two GMs of color (Browns’ Andrew Berry and Dolphins’ Chris Grier).

“That just complements part of the overall collection of the things that we’re doing, to increase mobility among in particular Black coaches and females as well in the coach and GM front,” NFL executive president of football operations Troy Vincent told the media, “I’m looking forward to seeing what the offseason has to bring in the hiring cycle.”

Comical.

Absurd, actually.

The league is expecting white owners to change their racist ways with draft picks?

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The same owners that needed a Rooney Rule — a policy started in 2003 that required teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.

Think about it. That was just to make sure white owners interviewed people of color, forget about hiring them.

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And even with the Rooney Rule in place, owners ignored it and simply paid the fine. In 2003, the Lions were fined $200,000 after failing to interview any Black candidates. Brothers refused to take a token interview in Detroit. It was common knowledge at the time that Steve Mariucci was going to replace Marty Mornhinweg.

There’s only one way that this blatant disregard for Black people will stop — when the players stop allowing these owners to get away with it.

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The players — and players only — can make these owners do right.

It’s so simple.

Players should stop playing for owners that don’t hire or promote minorities in their organizations.

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Players should call them out publicly. Star players should demand that a Black coach is hired. Players shouldn’t sign a free-agent contract with owners who refuse equal opportunity to all. Period. Full stop.

And if players really want to put the squeeze on these no-good owners, they should get fans and sponsors involved as well.

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That’s how owner Dan Snyder got around to changing his franchise’s racist name down in Washington. He said it would never happen under his watch. But it did. And it didn’t take long after sponsors threatened to pull money from the team.

Players have that same power. That racist name would have been changed years ago if players refused to wear those uniforms or helmets.

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The players are the league, not the owners.

And the players have reason to make this stand. It’s about their future after their playing days are over. It would only make sense that Black people be qualified for these jobs since 70 percent of the league is Black.

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But, somehow, white guys who never played in the league, failed at college jobs and have inferior resumes keep getting hired. It has to be about race and their connections.

Exhibit A currently in the NFL is Kliff Kingsbury. He failed at Texas Tech and was fired. But the Arizona Cardinals hired him over Black assistant coaches looking for their chance. Has Kingsbury had success? Yes. Would he have gotten the job with his resume had he been Black? No way, no how.

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Then there’s the legendary hire of Todd Haley by the Kansas City Chiefs. Haley NEVER played football. Not in high school or college.

But his dad, Dick Haley, was an NFL bigwig with the Steelers and Jets. Hence, Todd Haley got a plum job. Enter nepotism. Enter white privilege.

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But Black players went along with it. There was no pushback. There should have been. This is why this stuff continues to happen and goes unchecked.

Instead of this new PR stunt, the NFL would be better off outlawing nepotism. Many companies don’t allow it. To be honest, it’s one of the biggest things holding back Black coaches from getting the opportunities that have worked for and earned.

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Still, it comes down to the players holding these owners accountable.

And if they are not willing to change, players should tell those owners to simply “F” off.

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