HOLD – WAITING FOR PROPER PHOTO CREDIT FROM ERIC – Kevin
LOS ANGELES, January 8, 2013 — Football sportswriter Michael Silver is a thoughtful individual, and his heartfelt passion for the NFL is matched only by his commitment to civil rights. In a league where two-thirds of the players are black, it is not acceptable to have so few black head coaches and front office personnel.
Doug Williams shattered the myth about black quarterbacks. Tony Dungy did the same for black head coaches. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is the best in the business.
Michael Silver’s frustration comes in seeing the Cleveland Browns pursue Josh McDaniels for their open head coaching position while passing over more qualified candidates such as Hue Jackson and Jim Caldwell. Jackson and Caldwell are both black, while McDaniels is white.
Silver’s assertion that Caldwell and Jackson are better coaches than McDaniels is solid. Few football minds would disagree with this.
Where Silver errs is in taking a correlation and claiming a causation where one may not exist. It is perfectly acceptable to want improved hiring practices for all races, but in this case there are other perfectly valid explanations regarding these three former head coaches.
Raider fans by and large thought Hue Jackson did an excellent job and would welcome him back in a heartbeat. His end of season press conference meltdown cost him his job. Jackson claimed that he was going to “take a much stronger hand” in the “entire organization.”
Hue Jackson, however, forgot that he was not the owner. He was right to be angry, but it is essential to remember that he was fired by a black general manager in Reggie McKenzie, who hired a white coach in Dennis Allen. McKenzie and Allen were different races but both were guys on the defensive side of the ball, whereas Jackson was about offense. McKenzie wanted a defensive guy.
Jim Caldwell is also an excellent coach. There is a bias against Caldwell, but not because of race. The bias is against quiet guys. Caldwell has never made a facial expression. He is a deeply religious man who keeps stoic on the sideline.
Guys who yell and scream will always get noticed more than quiet guys. That goes with players too. People who are quiet are mistaken for lacking passion. This is what kept Tony Dungy from a top job for so long. In many areas of life, being quiet is seen as being soft.
As for Josh McDaniels, a bias does exist. Once again, however, it is not racial. For some mistaken reason, pro-Bellichick bias exists. Bill Bellichick has won three Super Bowls as a head coach, but at some point executives will realize that the Bellichick coaching tree sucks. The success rate of Bellichick disciples is zero.
Eric Mangini was known as “Mangenius,” despite not winning a playoff game with two franchises. Josh McDaniels acted like a tyrant in the Bellichick mode, but after a 6-0 start, lost 17 of his next 22 games. Charlie Weis came across as a pompous windbag who talked big and delivered small as a head coach at Notre Dame.
All three of these guys are white, but Romeo Crennel is black. Crennel is one of the most decent guys in all of sports, but he had two chances to coach an NFL team, failing both times. Walsh and Parcells are a pair of Bills with success not only in winning Super Bowls, but in teaching their assistants how to win them. Bellichick has not had this success.
This does not mean everything is hunky-dory in the NFL. Improvements can be made. The Rooney Rule mandates that every team with an opening for a head coaching position must interview at least one minority candidate. This is not tokenism or establishing a quota of any kind, since there is no guarantee of a job offer. There is also no job security for any coach of any race upon getting hired.
The Rooney rule should be expanded to include job openings for assistant coaches. There is zero harm in interviewing more people. The owners are not racists. They want to win above everything else. They just do not know about many minority candidates because they do not know about most assistant coaches of any race.
The head coach gets most of the publicity, good or bad. A hot coordinator can get some buzz, but below that there are grinders who work just as hard with zero notice.
Most fans can name most of the top quarterbacks but not the offensive linemen. That same reasoning is why most fans can name many head coaches but not name the offensive line coaches.
Even if Silver is incorrect about this particular coaching situation involving McDaniels, Caldwell and Jackson, his overall concern about minority hiring in the NFL is noble and valid. The upside to more minority interviews is the chance of finding the next Ron Rivera or Mike Tomlin.
Rivera has turned the Carolina Panthers from doormats into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Tomlin has won one Super Bowl for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are perennial contenders on his watch.The downside is nothing.
The hiring in 1992 of Dennis Green led to the eventual hiring of Dungy, who in turn introduced the football world to Lovie Smith and Herman Edwards. That was an example of black coaches giving black assistants a chance.
With so few black head coaches, that mode of discovery is not good enough. White head coaches need to have more minority assistants, but few coaches beyond Al Davis, as coach and later as owner, and Bill Parcells have made it a top priority. People cannot hire people they do not know.
Expand the Rooney Rule and give more minorities interviews. An interview is only a chance, which is all anyone has a right to ask for. It will not only lead to a better society, but a much stronger National Football League.
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