Category Archives: Sports

Diversity in the NFL

In the Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places, there is a scene when Randolph Duke asks his brother Mortimer if they should retain Murphy’s character as the managing director:

You mean keep Valentine on, as Managing Director?

Do you really believe I would have a nigger run our family business, Randolph?

Of course not. Neither would I.

It is not a stretch to imagine a similar conversation taking place in the executive offices of NFL franchises among owners. Today on the first day of Black History Month, there is exactly one African American head coach employed by NFL franchises. Houston fired head coach David Culley after one season despite being universally praised for the Texans overachieving with a roster bereft of NFL talent. Brian Flores hired by the Miami Dolphins three years ago, right before management decided to sell off most of their talent in a blatant attempt to tank the season. Flores held the locker room together during that turbulent season and produced two winning seasons after that first season. Eric Bieniemy has been the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has gone to four consecutive AFC championship games and two Super Bowls. Bieniemy has yet to sniff a head coaching job. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feature African American offensive and defensive coordinators with a Super Bowl championship on their resume; both were expected to be hot head-coaching candidates this year. Neither has been hired or considered a finalist in for any of them the remaining jobs.

African American head coaches are also held to a higher standard than most white coaches take Jim Caldwell, who as head coach of the Colts led them to the Super Bowl his first season, went 10-6 his second before an injury to star quarterback Peyton Manning suffered an injury that would force him to miss the following season. The Colts went 2-14, and Caldwell was relieved of his duties. It took four years for Caldwell to be given another opportunity; conversely, the New York Jets hired Adam Gase after two straight losing seasons before the Dolphins could change the locks on his office. Caldwell produced three winning seasons out of four in Detroit and was fired for his efforts. The Lions have since hired two white head coaches who have produced zero winning seasons since Caldwell’s firing. Current Lions head coach Dan Campbell, despite posting a 3-13-1 record, has been praised by the media for his team playing hard and improving the culture in Detroit; think back to what I wrote about David Culley as a perspective on that. The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to the Super Bowl; their head coach Zac Taylor prior to this year was 2-14 and 4-11 but was afforded the opportunity to grow with the team.

Now let’s transpose the NFL with the NBA, a league with only one African American owner. Last hiring cycle, there were eight head coach openings, seven filled by African Americans. Thirteen of the thirty NBA head coaches are currently African Americans. The pipeline to head coaching opportunities in the NBA, assistant coaches, is teeming with African Americans. When head coaching opportunities arise in the NBA, African Americans routinely are interviewed as opposed to what in many cases is the token interview afforded to a single African American candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule. While far from perfect, the NBA has made diversity hires among its head coaches a priority, and its owners are leap years ahead of their NFL counterparts in progressive thinking.

There appears to be no easy answer to the NFL problem. The league is a money-making machine, and its ownership has in their mind no reason to worry about the perception of their hiring practices. The Commissioner’s office has no real say in the matter as the Commissioner is an employee of the owners. Until NFL owners make the collective decision to prioritize diversity in the hiring of head coaches, it will be the same old story for the foreseeable future.

Sports Injuries

Watching Derrick Henry and Cam Akers play last week and this week, I’ve determined the appropriate sports injuries timelines

Hockey Player – Breaks leg misses one shift while trainers adjust his skates

Football Player – Tears ACL and ruptures Achilles out 4-6 weeks

Basketball Player – Spains finger out 3-4 months

Baseball Player – Sprains ankle out 4-6 months

Soccer Player – Shoved to ground presumed dead until the opponent is given a red card. Makes remarkable recovery scores game-winning goal

Jim Harbaugh, here we go again hitting the recycle button

Let me go on record with this. I think Jim Harbaugh is a good guy and what he did this year for University staff who were economically impacted by covid was beyond generous. That said, some NFL franchise will be smitten by the memory of him unleashing Colin Kapernick on the NFL and the success those 49ers teams had and overpay him. In doing so, they will overlook that in his time at Michigan, his teams constantly underperformed, their offense was usually unimaginative, and their defense nothing to write home about

Most importantly, they came up short in the big game time and time again, most notably losing to their bitter rival Ohio State every year until finally breaking through this year. However, they did drop a game to in-state rival Michigan State yet again. There are lots of young innovative coaching candidates, many of whom are African-American, who deserve a chance at being a head coach before we hit the recycle button on Jim Harbaugh

The NFL continues to prove it has no shame

Reports today say Miami and the Texans have agreed in principle to a deal for Deshaun Watson, but the Dolphins want clarity on his legal issues before going through with it.  Another report states NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league does not have the necessary information to put Texans QB Deshaun Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list, which allows Watson to be paid but not play. While his legal issues play themselves out. This is coming on the heels of finding out the NFL knew about Jon Gruden’s racist, sexist, homophobic e-mails to another league executive on the Washington football team’s e-mail since July and said nothing even after they were leaked. In addition, the league has refused to make public what else they found in their review of over 600,000 e-mails proving once again the NFL is nothing but lip service when it comes to diversity. They can put all the slogans they want in end zones, run commercials until the cows come home about their commitment to change, but in the end, nothing fundamentally changes within the NFL’s good old boy network, and the NFL should be ashamed of that…but sadly they won’t be. 

Congratulations Naomi Osaka

Congratulations to Naomi Osaka not only on winning her 2nd U.S. Open and 3rd Grand slam title but for having the courage, and if you think it doesn’t take courage you must not have heard the boos the other night during the Chiefs Texans game for the moment of unity, to use her celebrity to bring attention to Black Lives Matter and the victims of police brutality.
Well Done👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

The NFL’s Anthem problem. Whose Wrong or is Everyone Right.

This week the Miami Dolphins made public that any player who participate in a protest during the national anthem would be subject to a four game suspension, although they also said they don’t plan on enforcing it. As an African American I have conflicted emotions regarding this subject. No one can deny that racial injustice and social inequity is a very real thing. Colin Kapernick began this protest movement to bring light to these issues through his celebrity and it cost him his career.  As other joined in the protest President Trump saw that this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to his base by hijacking the issue and essentially changing the narrative to one of a protest against the national anthem and called those who protest unpatriotic. Owners worried that fans would turn away from their game thus hurting their bottom line, and in the NFL nothing is more important than the bottom line, felt the need to draw a line in the sand.  Through it all the original intent of Kapernick message started to get lost. It began to seem as players were protesting simply because they were told they couldn’t and fans had brought into the President narrative that the protest were unpatriotic. After much thought I have concluded that since the NFL is a business and the players are in essence employees of that business, highly paid and famous employees but employees nevertheless less, they should play by the same rules as everyone else. To that end when most of us in society are told we are prohibited from doing or saying something while on duty that the company feels would hurt their bottom line or be perceived as a negative, whether in reality it is or isn’t, we do it.  Failure to follow the rules often leads to termination of one’s employment. As NFL players are “on duty” representing their teams during the national anthem it is not outrageous to say they have an obligation to follow the rules set by the team’s owners.

This however does not mute the player’s voices, they need look no further than their NBA brothers as an example. In a league overwhelmingly African American NBA players stand as required for the national anthem. Are we to believe NBA players are oblivious to the injustices of society around them or that they simply don’t care about issues such as social inequality because they stand instead of protesting. The answer is of course no. But NBA players use their celebrity during their “own” time to draw attention to these issues. Who can forget when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade teamed up to deliver a powerful speech during the 2016 ESPY  in which they called for fellow athletes to use their fame to heal a country divided by racism, injustice and gun violence.  They referenced fatal police shooting of African American young men they called on fellow athletes call to educate themselves and to speak up and use their influence.  They urged fellow athletes to go back to their communities, invest their time, their resources to help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. Their message could not be hijack the narrative not changed. No one could question if they were giving the speech because they were told not to and most importantly they showed the power of their voices away from their jobs on the hardwood.

NFL players can follow suit. Hold workshops in the community mentoring young people of color while at the same time calling attention to the injustices those same young people face on a daily basis. Work as a group with local police to meet with and come to a better understanding of the community they are policing. Use public events such as the ESPY awards to speak out and condemn the issues that the protest during the national anthem were intended to bring light to.

This issue is bigger than if players do or don’t have the right to protest during the national anthem. It is bigger than NFL players versus NFL owners and the President. Rather than get bogged down in that fight, rather than provide even the smallest of opportunity for others to change the narrative NFL players should use the multiple avenues available to them on their “own” time to help build and strengthen their communities and to call attention to the issues of social injustice and racial inequality.

Sports proves it’s not real life yet again

Sports isn’t the real world and the Eli Manning saga proved it once again. In the real world if you don’t produce no matter what you may have done in the past you might be cut loose. When you don’t make the playoffs consistently, take delay of game penalties every week, throw the untimely interception more than the game winning TD lately, fumble whenever a defender breaths on you you’re playing with fire. I love Eli, he was great and put two trophies in the case but you don’t get the job for life. We correctly admire his streak but the reality is he just came to work everyday and was highly paid for it. He isn’t the single mother struggling to find child care so she can get to work. He isn’t the father who works 18 hours a day everyday just to put a roof over his family’s head. He’s a football player who played on Sunday and made 20 million plus every year to do it and by the way will still earn his money even while sitting on the bench. He won’t have the worries of the average joe who gives his life to a company and is let go after a few lean years and needs to worry how he’s going to care for his family. Let’s keep things in perspective Eli was great but let’s not weep for him he’ll be alright.

Cam was wrong. We are hypocritical

Cam Newton’s recent comments to a female reporter at a news conference has brought the predictable outrage. Many taking to the airwaves to call him sexist, belittling, disrespectful all the predictable adjectives. While Newton was wrong and deserving of all the arrows being slung at him many of those criticizing him now both publicly and privately can spare me their righteous outrage. Last November many of them went into the voting both and pulled the level for a man who routinely demeans women to be the next President of this country. Have we evolved as a country when it comes to gender equality when that same man can say as a star you can grab a woman by the pussy and millions of Americans just shrugs it off? When Great Britain, Germany, France, Israel, Australia and a host of other developed countries throughout the world have had a woman lead them and we still have people wondering can a woman be President? Newton was wrong but don’t condemn him because it is the politically correct thing to do while simultaneously holding the same beliefs and doing nothing to change the gender inequality gap that plaques this country.


I kneel because I love the promise of America

Ok NFL players you showed your unity this past weekend with varying displays of so called anthem protest but now is the time to bring the narrative back to its original intent. Yes you should continue to kneel, continue to lock arms or whatever form of protest you feel is appropriate. No you should not allow this President to deter you. But when a microphone is placed in front of you and you are asked about disrespecting the flag and the servicemen and women. Do not allow the narrative to be changed. Tell them emphatically NO I will not play that game. Tell them I kneel to protest social injustice. Tell them I kneel to protest police brutality. Tell them I kneel to bring to light the way people of color are treated in many aspects of society today. Tell them you love America as much as anyone and as such you demand it lives up to its promise. Tell them you respect this country’s servicemen and women and as such I kneel because the 40% of the military made up of ethnic minorities should not have to return to a country where they or their family may be subject to police brutality or discrimination based on the color of their skin. Tell them I kneel not as a sign of disrespect to this country but as a sign of respect for the values that it was founded on, the concept that all men are created equal. Tell them I kneel to force those who would choose to turn a blind eye to these injustices to feel uncomfortable to the point that they will finally open their minds and begin a dialogue on how to truly make this country great. Tell that this is why I kneel.