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02/07/2003

Racism? In Detroit?

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This past Wednesday the Detroit Lions hired Steve Marriucci as their head coach. Marriucci replaces Marty Mornhinweg who was fired by the Lions on January 27th. Of course, Marriucci was himself fired from the San Francisco 49ers just 12 days earlier because of a disagreeement with 49ers' .owner John York. The outcome of all this (besides one guy being out of a job) is that the Detroit Lions are coming under fire because of how they hired Marriucci.

According to a USA Today Sports section article, there was a "December agreement by NFL owners to speak directly with at least one minority applicant" whenever filling a head coaching position. Can I just interrupt here for a moment? To throw up? What kind of stupid agreement is that? The Lions didn't talk to anyone but Marriucci. So what? Maybe they, um I don't know, wanted to hire Steve Marriucci? The article continues: "Attorney Cyrus Mehri, working with " - wait for it - "Johnnie Cochran to increase the number of black coaches, termed Detroit's actions 'really disappointing.'" Can I just take this moment to ask why Johnnie Cochran is involved in the NFL's hiring practices?

The NFL run by money. Nothing but money. Ok, maybe tradition and money. But mostly money. When given a choice between money and tradition, money always wins. We've already seen that with the Colts moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis and the Browns moving from Cleveland to Baltimore. Every season is a do-or-die scenario for a franchise. There are no more teams trying to build a dynasty. They are all trying to buy a winner at the beginning of every year. Each of these owners laying out their money so their general managers can assemble all the pieces to make a winner. And these pieces include the head coach. Teams don't care about the colors black or white, they care about the color green. If a black man was the best man for the job, you can damn well be sure that team is going to hire that man. The NFL owners don't need "an agreement" or a "Committee on Workplace Diversity". All they need to do is look at their won/loss record, decide if they need a new head coach and then find the best one available. Is it so hard to believe the Steve Marriucci might have been the best available coach at the time? Do the Lions really have to go through a sham interview just to satisfy a paper agreement?

The Jets hired Herm Edwards as their coach starting the 2001 season. Is Herm Edwards black? I guess so. Is he better than Bill Parcells? Remains to be seen. Is he better than Al Groh? Yeah. Is he better than Rich Kotite, the whitest white guy on the planet? Hell, yeah. The strong survive - it's almost like evolution. Cro-Magnon Man didn't need a committee on primate diversity. The strong adapted and rose to the top and the stupid fell away and croaked. I love what Herm did with the Jets these past two years. He won more games and went farther than two of the three white guys that proceeded him. Who are you gonna hire next opening: Herm Edwards (whose record was 18-14 with two playoff wins over two years) or Marty Mornhinweg (whose record was 5-27 over two years)?

And can we really blame the Detroit Lions here? The article goes on to say that the Lions "contacted five minority coaches, but none consented to interview with Mariucci so clearly the front-runner." Aside from a sentence structure that confused me to the point that I thought the interviewees would have to interview with Mariucci, just what exactly are the Lions supposed to do in this case? Kidnap an applicant, tie him to a chair under some hot lights and ask him if he wants a head coaching job in the NFL?

The article continues: "Of four previous openings, one was filled by an African-American, bringing the number of black head coaches to three in a league that is 70% black." Now the 2000 Census tells me that the percent of the U.S. population that is Black or African-American is 12.3. So 25% of the available head coaching positions this year were filled by African-American. Further, if that hire brought the total number of black head coaches to three, that means that 9.3% of the 32 head coaching positions in the NFL are held by an African-Americans. Why, to reach an accurate representation of American society, the NFL would have to hire (gasp) one more black coach. Shocking! How did we let it slip away this far?! Actually what I find interesting is that no one is shocked by the fact the NFL is 70% black. Is that a reason for the the NFL to create a "Committee for On-Field Diversity"? Should head coaches (both black and white) have to look at white players when selecting their draft picks? Or should they just be able to select whoever (whomever? I forget) they think will be the best player? I'm just curious, that's all.

I think the real problem that everyone is ignoring is why aren't their more black kickers? Or even American kickers? Why are they all little white guys from Eastern Europe? I think a committee needs to be formed. And soon!