The NFL sent out a press release this week that screamed, “Hey look, we did a good thing,” while being completely oblivious to the fact that their actions were shameful – which is very on brand for this league.
The heading read, “Bill Walsh diversity coaching fellowship and Nunn-Wooten scouting fellowship continue to further develop NFL’s pipeline.” Walsh is one of the greatest football coaches of all time – he was also white.
What’s the point of having a fellowship that’s “supposed to help” minority coaches fight against white privilege in a program named after a man that benefited from white privilege?
It’s like if the Susan G. Komen foundation was named after a man.
(I know that men can get breast cancer, but you get my point.)
The saddest thing about this is that the league has no issue in finding at least one minority head coach that will be a mouthpiece for them, despite the fact that lack of minority coaches has been a black eye on the league for years.
“I believe the impact that the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship and Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship has had on our game is truly remarkable, it has opened up so many opportunities for coaches and personnel executives that otherwise may not have gotten them, especially men and women of color,” said Washington Football Coach Ron Rivera, a man that’s leading the grimiest franchise in the NFL. “These fellowships both give deserving men and women the opportunity to get their foot in the door and pursue a career that they are passionate about. As someone who took part in an NFL coaching internship to start my career, I appreciate that by getting that opportunity, I earned everything I’ve achieved from that point on.”
In a league in which at least 70 percent of its players are Black, finding minority candidates shouldn’t be a problem. But, as we know that isn’t the case, it’s just an excuse for the league to create things like this to cover up the fact that owners just don’t want people of color running their teams. Back in February, I put together a list of 12 Black candidates teams should be looking at, and this was weeks after a Super Bowl that featured coaching staffs with countless Black men and women.
But, this isn’t just a “Black thing,” either.
Earlier this year, Eugene Chung said he was told by an NFL team that he was “not the right minority.”
“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,” Chung explained. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. The last time I checked, when I looked in the mirror and brushed my teeth, I was a minority.” The league “looked into the matter,” but you already know how that went.
“After multiple discussions, including with Mr. Chung and his representative, we were unable to confirm the precise statement that was made, or by whom and under what circumstances any such statement was made,” the league said in a statement.
Every team in the NFL has “participated” in the diversity coaching fellowship that “provides NFL coaching experience to talented minority college coaches, high school coaches, and former players. Designed as a vocational tool to increase the number of full-time NFL minority coaches, all 32 NFL clubs have participated since its inception in 1987.”
This program has been around for 34 years and yet the NFL only has five minority coaches. Calling it a failure is an understatement. But, they never wanted it to be successful, which is why they named it after a white guy.