The NFL Must Face The Facts

By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter

The NFL’s coaching merry-go-round started with Former Miami Dolphin head coach Brian Flores going to court to file a Civil Rights Law Suit against the New York Football Giants, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins, for racial discrimination.

An earthquake shook the National Football League from coast to coast. The merry-go-round ended in New Orleans with former Las Vegas Raider head coach Dennis Allen the new leader of the Saints. African Americans did not fair well as it remains status quo.

Flores guided the Fins to back-to-back winning seasons as the aqua and white emerged from a 1-7 start to a 9-7 finish winning seven games in a row. It did not matter as Flores would still lose his job.

The league went on business as usual with the Vikings hiring Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell; the Jaguars hiring former Eagle head coach Doug Pederson, and the Miami Dolphins filled their opening with Ex-49er offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel in the same week as the lawsuit was filed.

Miami owner Stephen Ross allegedly offered Flores money to tank games and I thought only basketball teams did that. Mr. Flores wanted the Dolphins to draft a quarterback to fit his offensive style. The owner selected who he wanted, which is his choice but the sparks started flying right at the beginning of the season. Ross was stating I’m in charge here and you (Flores) work for me.

The lawsuit filed states that the league “remains rife with racism” and that “in certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation.” It points out that none of the 32 NFL owners are Black and that they profit from the labor of players, 70% of whom are Black. Flores said he is deciding to stand up for himself, and he hopes others join him. 

The Numbers for minority coaches and executives are really bad as NBC sports pointed out this past weekend. Current Players 432 white – 1,222 people of color, Head coaches 28 white – 4 people of color. Since 2012-2021. 52 white head coaches to 11 people of color, General Managers 31 white to 6 people of color, Offensive Coordinator 107 white to 12 people of color, Defensive Coordinator 61 white to 39 people of color.

There are twice as many defensive coordinators than offensive coordinators and this year the O.C.’s are receiving most of this year’s head coaching jobs leaving African Americans.

The Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a collection of minority coaches on the sidelines this year, the 2022 head coaching hiring cycle is a complete failure for the National Football League.

The opportunity to improve numbers missed, keeping “the old boy network,” intact with the status quo.

THE SMOKING GUN

New England head coach Bill Belichick told Flores through an inadvertent text message that he was going to a sham meeting with the New York Giants because he congratulated Brien Daboll, not Flores. Ooops, the cat jumped out of the bag and the truth came forth.

The Giants were just fulfilling their Rooney Rule legal obligations wasting time and space.

Now watch the way the NFL treat Mr. Flores in the upcoming months and years. He will never get a job in this league again just as the league blackballed quarterback Colin Kaepernick for speaking the truth they will shun the former Miami Dolphin head coach.

It’s already started with John Elway defending himself stating the interview was above board in Denver and Flores was a legitimate candidate for the Broncos head coaching position. The New York Giants stated nothing happened and the Cleveland Browns pointed the finger at their former head coach Hue Jackson instead of its own front office mistakes.

THE OLD BOY NETWORK

The National Football League is still a ‘Good Ole Boy’s Club’ full of nepotism, the classic example is in San Francisco with their head coach, Kyle Shanahan the son of Mike Shanahan who coached the Washington Football Club and Denver Broncos.

Many of the owners believed that Blacks weren’t intelligent enough to play quarterback. There are now nine starting Black quarterbacks with three more waiting in the wings of 2022. These owners are unable to judge Black people by the content of their character and their positive achievements.

Many African American football fans still can’t believe we are dealing with this in the year 2022.

Meanwhile, New Orleans’ Sean Payton walked away from his job in the Crescent City. Payton wanted and needed time off from football. Payton will get another job. Flores will not. There have been 110 white head coaching rehires compared to only 10 Black rehires since 1970.

Remember African Americans did not have this opportunity until 1989 with Oakland Raider Art Shell.

The executive clock started ticking when the New York Giants hired their new General Manager Joe Schoen a week after the end of the season. The Denver Broncos (Nathaniel Hackett from the Green Bay Packers) and Chicago Bears (Matt Eberflus) fill their head coaches positions before the Super Bowl in Los Angeles.

Two more General Managers spots are still seeking a person to fill those positions before the party in SoFi Stadium. So the National Football League did not start the post-season expanding the diversity pool, in fact, they went in reverse.

Here is the problem: Dallas’ Jerry Jones already has his eyes out for Sean Payton. Jones would bypass the Rooney Rule and pay the fine to get the head coach he wants, just as the Oakland Raiders picked Jon Gruden years ago and went on about their business.

The Rooney Rule needs some backbone, some meat, some real fines for these owners and teams to stop sidestepping the Rule. Owners need to be suspended for violating the rules. Many African Americans are now stating enough is enough and will walk away from the game if this is not fixed or corrected. NFL fans Black and white in 2016-2018 did just that turning their television sets off on the weekends. A national boycott is not far behind.

Mike Tomlin-Pittsburgh Steelers

Teams continue to dance around this rule and continue to make excuses for not hiring minority head coaches. The Monday before the Super Bowl the first African American was finally hired Lovie Smith and will guide the wayward Houston Texans. Smith took the Chicago Bears to their last Super Bowl.

The question is, would you want the Houston Texan head coaching job with the mess in that organization? Not one single Sports News Channel is discussing the Houston disaster. The ownership made it worst by hiring a first-time head coach (David Culley) without a starting quarterback to guide the offense.

Or would you want the New Orleans job with Sean Payton lurking in the weeds waiting to reclaim his position and two years left on his contract? This is a mess.

THE NEW YORK GIANTS

The New York Giants have regressed since former General Manager Jerry Reese walked away from Met Life Stadium six years ago. Reese took the Giants to Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, both against the New England Patriots. A Super Bowl now is only a dream for the GEE-MEN.

They are officially the worst team in the National Football Conference, while the Jacksonville Jaguars carry that flag for the American Football Conference. The new G.M. will have plenty of time to fix the Giants. Only time will tell. The New York Giants are now the New Orleans Aint’s and they will have more years of losing seasons ahead in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.

Teams have stated time and time again that they cannot find qualified African Americans to fill the head coaching position. They have stated that Black coaches lack the experience and the years to lead their teams. This will fall on deaf ears this year because the list of African American coaching assistants and coordinators is abundant. There are ten Black prospects while there are 14 Caucasian prospects.

You can’t get the job if you’re not allowed to open the door and this has been the case for Black coaches for years.

White head coaches are not pressured to produce winning teams when they are in the first years of their tenure. USAtoday.com, touchdownwire make this very clear. Black head coaches must hit the ground running and must make the playoffs their first few years.

Black head coaches receive the worst teams in the league (i.e. David Culley, Houston Texans, Michael Singletary, San Francisco 49ers, Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts, Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears, and Anthony Lynn-San Diego Chargers).

This is not fair but it exists because there are not enough Black executives in the NFL. All of these intelligent Black men improved their teams. But it does not matter the NFL falls back to the OLD BOY NETWORK and loses.

Need proof from this season? Let’s start with New York Giants head coach Joe Judge, who has been a disaster from start to finish in his two-year tenure. He had a 10-23 record, his play calling and talent deployment tend to be a joke at the best of times and there are reports that Judge’s own players want him out even as ownership holds fast to the idea that Judge is the guy to turn the franchise around. Judge’s Giants lost their last six games, and seven of their final eight

Need more proof? The Panthers hired Matt Rhule two years ago. Rhule has the same 10-23 record Judge has, Carolina lost their last seven games in 2021, and eight of their final nine. Rhule has overseen similarly horrible roster and talent deployment decisions, and if you want to know how clear he is on his own quarterback situation after two full seasons… well, this ain’t good.”

The owners want their head coaches to look like them and this year that may be a problem because there are so many qualified African Americans assistant coaches and coordinators on the field. It is a problem for the league because 97% of the owners are Caucasian while 70-80% of the players are African American. The current coaching staff is 65% white 35% Black with 95% of head coaches looking like their team owners.  

HISTORY

As of this moment there are two Black Head Coaches, new hire Lovie Smith with the Houston Texans and veteran Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin with two other minority head coaches Native Ameri can/First Nation heritage with the Washington Football Club, Ron Rivera and Middle Eastern American with the New York Jets, Robert Saleh.

Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard was the first African American coach in the National Football League. “Fritz” Pollard grew up in Chicago. Pollard was a talented baseball player, running back, and a three-time Cook County track champion. Pollard coached the Akron Pros in 1921 and won the football title.

Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders and rebel of the league made history when he hired Art Shell the first African American head coach in the modern era in 1989. The Indianapolis Colts went to the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy the first African American to win. Dungy coached in The First Soul Bowl with Lovie Smith Chicago Bears in 2007. There have been two other African Americans head coaches guiding their teams to the Super Bowl. Mike Tomlin-Pittsburgh Steelers and then rookie head coach Jim Caldwell-Indianapolis Colts. Remember Caldwell took the Colts to a 14-0 start and number one seed in AFC playoffs.

So when somebody states or claims Black head coaches cannot lead teams just recite these four names Caldwell, Tomlin, Smith, and Dungy.

The question is, can you imagine the pressure on Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders, and Art Shell? Mr. Highway 78 took the Raiders to the playoffs being the second African American head coach to guide his team to the AFC playoffs.

The league missed so many talented Black coaches through the years and the Rooney Family wanted to change this paradigm and give African American coaches a step in the coaching door. It is still a slow boat to Timbuktu.

Brian Flores wants everybody to have equal opportunity in the hiring and firing of executive officers.

Here is a list of possible African American head coaches for 2022.

Patrick Graham-New York Giants-O.C.

Jerod Mayo- New England Linebacker Coach

Leslie Frazier- Buffalo – D.C.

Raheem Morris- Los Angeles Rams O.C.  

Byron Leftwich- Tampa Bay-O.C.

Eric Bieniemy- Kansas City-O.C.

Keith Armstrong- Tampa Bay – Special Teams

Harold Goodman- Arizona- O.C.

Todd Bowles- former head coach New York Jets

Brian Flores- former head coach Miami Dolphins   

NOTE:-

O.C. MEANS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

D.C. MEANS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

To the Commissioner of the National Football League TIME IS UP

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 glcgray@gmail.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

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