By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
This weekend, America celebrated the birthday of Black Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. America continues to celebrate the struggles of African Americans on January 17, 2022. The NFL might have been left in a time warp with the events on the field and in the front offices the past two weeks.
They are putting recent progressive history in reverse. Like their (MLB) Major League Baseball brothers turning back the clock.
As of this moment when it is playoff weekend, only one single Black Head Coach roams the NFL sidelines with Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and one other minority head coach with Native American/First Nation heritage in Washington’s Ron Rivera.
The smoke has not cleared yet from the recent head coaches releases on BLACK MONDAY, January 10th.
The NFL continues to give lip service concerning the hiring and firing of Black and minority head coaches. The numbers continue to fall year after year. The Rooney Rule now is just an escape clause to ward off criticism from Black fans, politicians, and players of their current Black head coaching numbers.
Dr. King would not be pleased and would voice his opinion.
The rule requires each team to interview at least one minority candidate for a senior executive job. This year three teams have already complied with this rule. Last year, the league changed the requirements to at least two
Over the years, the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions found ways around this rule, and both teams were fined but other teams like the Oakland Raiders continued this disturbing trend. The rest of the league is now in lockstep as the number dropped to a single head coach in Steel City, the birthplace of the Rooney Rule in 2022.
Last week, the NFL eclipsed the 2017-18 record of seven with eight fired head coaches. Two African Americans: Miami’s Flores and Houston’s David Culley. The others were Joe Judge (Giants), Matt Nagy (Bears), Mike Zimmer (Vikings), Vic Fangio (Broncos), Urban Meyer (Jaguars), and Jon Gruden (Raiders).
Flores took the last place Dolphins from a 1-7 start to a 9-8 final record. Miami missed the playoffs by one game which included a seven-game winning streak. Most head coaches would have thrown in the towel and called it a day.
They would have played the 2nd and 3rd string players in Miami. Not Flores, who told the team, “Let’s go.”
Flores gets fired anyway and there is an ugly connection with the Houston Texans and their suspended quarterback Deshaun Watson. When we discuss POWER and CONTROL this team made it very clear. The General Manager and owner wanted Flores to start quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Flores wanted Mr. Watson to fit his team’s running style. You can guess who won this battle as Mr. Flores will be looking for another job in the 2022 season.
Now compare this to what the Raiders did when they hired the aforementioned Gruden in January of 2018. Before Gruden even step foot on the Coliseum floor, he stated there would be major changes for the Black and Silver.
First, he cut all-pro punter Marquette King without speaking with him. Then linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper would no longer put on the East Bay jersey. They were shipped out of Oakland to the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears, and the Dallas Cowboys respectively.
Gruden continued to butt heads with General Manager Reggie McKenzie for six months and finally got McKenzie fired. Gruden stated he wanted his guys in the front office and hired Mike Mayock to replace McKenzie and reset the Raiders clock.
Five years and only one playoff loss under the 2nd Gruden era. Jon Gruden resigned after the New York Times revealed discouraging emails over eight years that had misogynistic, homophobic, and sexist language.
Gruden also stated in another email that NFLPA executive director who is African American-DeMaurice Smith had lips like the Michelin Man. In a bit of irony, Mayock was fired from his duties in Las Vegas at the time of this report.
Now tell me when was the last time a Black head coach got a GM fired.. I’ll Wait… The answer is NEVER!!!
As for Mr. Culley, he should have never been offered the job at 66 years old and a terrible team that was going nowhere with major trades and the Watson issue not being solved. This was Culley’s only shot at leading an NFL team.
The Dog and pony show will continue in Houston no matter who the head coach holds the position. Culley was the sacrificial lamb this time and it boost the Black hiring numbers. The NFL and the Houston Texan organization should be ashamed of themselves but they are not, they just move on to another season.
This is what African American coaches have to face year after year.
We’re still waiting for the shoes to drop with the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. The white flag could be flying for Pete Carroll and Kevin Stefanski. I also believe that San Diego’s Brandon Staley could be on the hot seat if he does not produce a playoff season in 2022.
Seven years ago, Colin Kaepernick pleaded and kneeled for America to examine the NFL and racial landscape of this nation. Kaepernick wanted to change the landscape of the league and leadership positions, to open owners’ eyes to issues in the African American community, issues on the field, and around the nation.
The owners still have to do more than put racial equality words at the end zone, on helmets, and on uniforms. Action and deeds speak louder than words. The NFL continues to slide back to their roots of the conservative ways with their owners.
As a reminder, Mike Tomlin is the second longest-tenured head coach in the league behind New England’s Bill Belichick. We all need to ask: Are you serious about the lack of numbers of Black quarterbacks, Black owners, Black General Managers, and Black Presidents?
There are only three Black General Managers out of 32 teams: Miami’s Chris Grier, Cleveland’s Andrew Berry (who is also the youngest in the league), and Washington’s Martin Mayhew who along with team president, Jason Wright form the only African American president/GM tandem in the league.
Jacksonville and Miami have limited Black ownership. When will this be addressed in the National Football League? There have been three attempts by African Americans to be majority owners in the last 40 years, all three times the owners blocked the sale.
There is a bright spot in this mess. The postseason began with four African American quarterbacks in the playoffs: Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs; Dallas’ Dak Prescott; Arizona’s Kyler Murray; and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles.
This is very disappointing for most African American football fans who have been loyal through the years. Colin Kaepernick informed us many years ago now it might be time for African Americans to walk away from the National Football League.
Dr. King would not be pleased with the lack of progress in the upper management positions.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod