The people that thought Brian Flores was lying have gone predictably silent.
A month after the former Miami Dolphins head coach, and current Pittsburgh Steelers defensive assistant, filed a 58-page class-action lawsuit against the NFL, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and the Dolphins alleging discrimination regarding his interview process, the league that’s always reactive instead of proactive has announced that each team must now have a minority assistant coach in a significant role on its offensive staff.
But, what about the broadcast booth?
FOX revealing that Kevin Burkhardt will be replacing Joe Buck as the network’s top play-by-play man for the NFL is ambivalent timing at its best. This is a huge decision as FOX has two of the next three Super Bowls. The news also means that fan-favorite Gus Johnson was not selected, as FOX, ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Amazon’s booths will all be led by white men.
Mike Tirico doesn’t count. He told us he was Italian, not Black, remember? Let’s respect his wishes.
But, Carron, aren’t these new rules proof of progress?
No. They’re examples of how this league keeps finding ways to give Black people things that we don’t want, instead of giving us what we asked for.
No one is better than the NFL at making meaningless grand gestures. This is the same league that just two years ago had a resolution tabled that would have incentivized the hiring of minority coaches and general managers by rewarding teams with improved draft positions. But, the bribe wasn’t good enough for the owners. And to add more fire to the flame, it’s been reported that at least two more coaches are expected to join Flores’ lawsuit, which will expose more owners.
But, here’s the real kicker. The league has expanded the Rooney Rule to include women, as the new mandate that requires teams to have at least one “diverse person” as an assistant offensive coach just means, “You have to pick anybody that’s not a white dude.”
Before anyone goes patting the NFL on the back, let’s take a minute to understand just what this means and why it’s such a slap in the face to all the overqualified Black coaches that have been overlooked for decades. The NFL doesn’t have a diversity issue, it has a “we hate hiring Black people” issue. And when that’s a league’s mentality, you should never trust them to do right by women when they can’t even address the needs of the minority group that has filed a class-action lawsuit against them. But, in typical NFL — and Corporate America — fashion, the league has now found a way to “address” their diversity problem by opening up the requirements to include women, which just means it’s a loophole to hire white women and check them off as diversity hires while Black coaches continue to get jumped in line.
And by no means is this a shot at women who want to coach in the NFL, like Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar who became the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl with the Bucs in 2021, or Jennifer King who became the first full-time Black female assistant coach in NFL history later that year. This isn’t to take away from their accomplishments and the trailblazers they’ve become. It’s to show you how the system works, and how this league will pull a three-card Monte to distract you from the fact that while all these historic and diverse happenings are taking place, Black coaches are still being shut out.
“The NFL member clubs support the important goal of increasing diversity among ownership,” read a statement from the owners, who have never allowed a Black person to join their exclusive club. “Accordingly, when evaluating a prospective ownership group of a member club pursuant to League policies, the membership will regard it as a positive and meaningful factor if the group includes diverse individuals who would have a significant equity stake in and involvement with the club, including serving as the controlling owner of the club.”
On Tuesday, the league also announced that they’ve created an NFL Diversity Advisory Committee. It features six members. Five of them are Black. However, once you’ve reached the point where you’re facing a class-action lawsuit, having to create an outside committee to “review the league’s diversity policies and practices” after the fact seems meaningless, given that there’s nothing that a committee can tell you that Flores’ lawsuit already hasn’t.
A new diversity committee and an updated Rooney Rule that will get circumvented won’t fix any of this, because they were never intended to. It’s just more window dressing from a league that can masquerade with the best of them. Besides, the only people that see these moves as “progress” are the privileged.