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Race Games in the NFL

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by bigtexxx, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    This is a continuation of the Michigan admissions thread. It deserves its own thread. It's a long read, but interesting.

    Of the Rooney Rule, Classically Black, and other distinctively American outrages
    by Jay Nordlinger

    Race, as you know, is on a rampage, storming every redoubt of American life. Have you heard the latest from the NFL?

    Toward the end of July, the NFL fined Matt Millen, president of the Detroit Lions, $200,000. His offense? He had hired the head coach he wanted — Steve Mariucci, who'd been sacked by the San Francisco 49ers — without interviewing any black candidates. He'd tried: that is, the Lions had contacted five different black coaches, trying to get them to participate in some sort of interview. But none of those men would agree, because the job was Mariucci's: It was a foregone conclusion; everyone knew it.

    I had a piece on this story in the Sept. 1 issue of National Review. But I'd like to say a little more about it, with your indulgence.

    Why'd the Lions even gesture toward those five coaches? Because of a new NFL rule: A team, when it has a head-coaching vacancy, must interview a "minority" candidate, or suffer the consequences. (In this case — as usual — "minority" is merely a euphemism for black. We're not talking about Vietnamese or Inuit coaches here.) The rule came about in this fashion: About a year ago, two famous "civil-rights" lawyers — Cyrus Mehri and the even more famous Johnnie Cochran, of O.J. notoriety — decided to tackle the NFL. They circulated a document called "Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities." They said that the league had better come up with more black head coaches, or they would go to court. This was no idle threat: Mehri, for his part, was famed for shaking down two great companies — Texaco and Coke — to the tune of $368 million. (He had claimed race discrimination, a mother lode on a par with "tobacco-related illness.")

    The NFL, jittery, acted, fast: It created a Workplace Diversity Committee — no institution or organization is complete without one these days — and imposed its must-interview-one-"minority"-candidate rule, known as the Rooney Rule, named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was anointed chairman of the Diversity Committee. (Follow all that?) The owners, collectively, seemed relieved to be clear of a lawsuit, and seen to be "doing something." One owner, however — Art Modell of the Baltimore Ravens — groused a little. If Johnnie Cochran ruled the world, he cracked, "he'd have O. J. Simpson coaching my team." Modell added, "This is such a competitive business, and we want to get the one guy coaching our teams who can turn the juice [not O.J.] on, regardless of color. And I have a question: Since Allie Sherman coached the Giants in the '60s, why haven't there been any Jewish head coaches in the league?"

    But never mind. The coaching question, of course, is an important one. Also a vexing one. The NFL is dominated by black players, and yet there are only three black head coaches, out of the 32 teams — which seems a gross imbalance, if you think in racial terms. The NFL has been working to "develop" black coaches: It has a "minority coaching internship program," and there is a similar program in the European NFL (yes, there is one).

    When the Lions' Millen went to hire his head coach, however, he wasn't thinking about race or redress. He was thinking about Steve Mariucci, the Peg o' his heart. The two were old friends, and Millen had long wanted Mariucci at the head of his team. It was an open secret. So when the 49ers dumped him, Millen promptly fired his own head coach (a sap named Marty Mornhinweg) and snapped up Mariucci. But there was that rule: so he felt out those black coaches, who refused to play along, as well they should have. Then he inked his man.

    Whereupon a bit of hell broke loose. Cyrus Mehri, the lawyer, said "what Matt Millen has done harkens back to the good-old-boy days." Jesse Jackson called for the punishment of the Lions. ("Lions Fed to Christian"?) The Detroit City Council — that sanctum of statesmen — unanimously passed a resolution condemning the hiring.

    Now, this business of interviewing candidates of a certain color is a tricky one. Gene Upshaw, head of the Players Association, warned of this, way back. He said that, if you mandated something like the Rooney Rule, "it will lead to sham interviews and sham lists [of coaches]." But when Millen hired the coach of his dreams, Upshaw said that he had "treated [the rule] almost as a nuisance." No kidding! Many commentators have scoffed at "courtesy" interviews, and "going through the motions," and "dog-'n'-pony shows" — but if they support tokenism — nay, mandate it — what else do they expect? They decry the indignity that a black coach has to suffer when he's used as a pawn in the satisfaction of a rule — but, again, what else do they expect?

    Teams had better interview these black candidates "in good faith," they say, and "with an open mind": but how is such a mental state to be determined? Part of Matt Millen's problem was that he was just too honest — too human, too unslick. In fact, Larry Lee, a former Lions executive — black, if anyone cares — told Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post, "It was Matt's inexperience in the front office that led him to be so open about [his] desire, when an experienced front-office executive would have kept [it] to himself." So Millen is penalized, and demonized, for not being a convincing actor in a charade: for saying (essentially), "This is the coach I want, race has nothing to do with it, I'm going to hire him, if NFL teams still have something like freedom of action."

    A few other teams in the league have hired head coaches recently too — white ones. Which is problematic. The commentary is getting a little ugly. The 49ers — the team that had dropped Mariucci — hired Dennis Erickson, a veteran coach at both the pro and college levels. The venom directed at him, and at the 49ers' decision, was astounding: It was creepily personal, accusatory. It was widely said that he was a "recycled" coach, not fit for the job, an obvious beneficiary of "white skin privilege," as we used to call it in the good ol' days of the Panthers (the Black Panthers, not the Carolina Panthers of the NFL). The 49ers had interviewed, among others, Dennis Green, another experienced coach — black, as it happens (or perhaps doesn't just happen). The Post's Wilbon said the choice of Erickson over Green was "dumb and also smacks of something more offensive." Terry Donahue, the team's general manager, had said that his decision was based on "gut instinct"; but that may not cut it in an increasingly racialized age. Wrote Wilbon, "If [the 49ers] had Erickson in their sights all along and talked to [black coaches] as a show, they violated both the letter and the spirit of the Rooney Rule." Okay: but how is one to know? How is one to assess the mental posture of NFL owners, presidents, and GMs? Can they be found out in thought crimes, and convicted of them?

    In Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired Bill Parcells, an already-legendary coach — but, to comply with the Rooney Rule, he talked to Dennis Green. Jimmy Raye, an assistant coach with the New York Jets, complained, "[Jones] wanted Bill Parcells, and, oh, by the way, he made a call to Denny Green and spent half an hour on the phone with him to act like he was in compliance" — which is "ludicrous." Well, yes: but is that the owner's fault, or the rule's? And will the NFL next mandate a time minimum? An hour, at least, with the "minority" candidate, and in person, not over the phone? As for the genuineness of the Jones confab with Green, we have this important statement from Dan Rooney himself: "Dennis Green said — and we talked to him to make sure — that he was satisfied with the interview he received. Had he taken a different position, we would have taken a different position ourselves." That is highly interesting. We must assume that if a black coach alleges that an interview was unserious, that will be enough for the Diversity Committee to pounce. A standard like that is ripe for mischief.

    NFL hirers are in a helluva dilemma. If they hire a white coach, they may be seen as social villains. If they hire a black coach: applause. But, again, if they pass over the black coach: the deepest suspicion, if not outright boos. Everyone responsible for hiring a head coach is now under a microscope for his very humanity. Next year, the Kansas City Chiefs' Dick Vermeil will retire — in all probability — and, as Randy Covitz wrote in that city's Star, the team "could be in the crosshairs of the minority-hiring issue . . . and a target of [Johnnie] Cochran's." What if, for example, the club "promotes assistant head coach Al Saunders and gives the impression it did not fairly consider minority candidates"? We're now in the realm of impressions. Perhaps the brave new social engineers should stop pussyfootin' around with this interviewing stuff and simply mandate the hiring of black head coaches — a certain percentage of the slots in the league. Say, half. Such a scenario is not unimaginable, for sometime in the future, and it would have the benefit of cutting to the chase.

    For me, the racial troubles of the Detroit Lions have a certain poignancy. I'm a Michigander. And Detroit is about the most racially troubled town in America. Long has been.

    An infamous and signal event occurred in 1989. In that year, a couple of Detroit reps in the Michigan state legislature threatened to withhold funding for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra unless it hired an additional black player, pronto. (The orchestra had only one.) The DSO — like all other self-respecting orchestras — had always had blind auditions. You play behind a curtain: They can't see you. They're not supposed to tell whether you're young or old, a man or a woman, or whatever.

    But that was the problem, as far as the racialists were concerned. So, the symphony extended an offer to a black bassist, who, to his shame, accepted. He said, "I would rather have auditioned like everybody else" — but he didn't. Black musicians all over the world were outraged; they felt kicked in the stomach, as, in a way, they had been. A black trombonist in the Atlanta Symphony observed, "It doesn't do any good for players' self-esteem if they feel the rules were bent for them." No sh**.

    In time, the DSO approached conductor James DePriest to be its music director. (DePriest is black, and, in fact, the nephew of the great American contralto Marian Anderson.) DePriest told them, in so many words, to shove it: "It is impossible for me to go to Detroit because of the atmosphere. People mean well, but you fight for years to make race irrelevant, and now they are making race an issue."

    In May 1996 — my, how time flies! — I did a piece for The Weekly Standard (my then employer) called "Race Notes." The spur of it was a brochure from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra that announced a subscription series called Classically Black. Would these be concerts featuring the music of, say, William Grant Still? No — that would be offensive enough (to be so labeled). These were concerts in which a black person participated in any way. For example, you have the Beethoven Ninth Symphony, and the mezzo-soprano — who is part of the vocal quartet in the last movement — happens to be black. Hesto presto, that concert is in Classically Black!

    Marietta Simpson, in fact, was just such a mezzo-soprano, and I called her up to discuss the matter. She'd had no idea about Classically Black, and she was aghast. Appalled. You could feel her burning, over the phone. "Amazing. Amazing. I was totally unaware of it. That's totally unbelievable. . . . I think that's in pretty poor taste. I mean, I can't imagine that anybody would have to divide the concerts like that. I can understand the need to bring in a varied audience, but there are other ways to do it. To make it appear that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony . . ."

    She continued, "I don't understand why it has to be categorized like that. If there were a Russian vocalist or pianist, would that concert qualify in an all-Russian series? If Russian singers were in the quartet for the Ninth, would Beethoven then be stuck in a Classically Russian series?"

    A Black Russian, perhaps!

    If you can't laugh, you gotta . . .

    Sports and music are about the purest meritocracies we have: It is talent that rules, not pigmentation. Now, I understand: The evaluation of coaches is much more subjective. Even there, however, it's so much easier when you judge people as people, and not as racial stand-ins. These racial questions, which pop up in every department of American life, get so dreary, we tire of making the usual points and arguments: What if there's a half-black coach? Do you have to interview another half-black coach — or another "black black" coach, making one and a half, total — to be in compliance with the Rooney Rule?

    And one thinks of another question, with deep roots in the abolition and civil-rights movements (not to mention the Bible): How long, Lord? How long will we bend under a racial storm, until dumb color simply washes away?
     
  2. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Wow, trader texx posts an uncredited article (from the National Review online, as usual, what is it with you and stealing their IP?)that, shockingly, is against affirmative action

    In other news, pope remains catholic. Yawn.

    Good night
     
  3. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    sorry if the article wasnt good enough for you sam. thanks for posting though tex
     
  4. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    Samuel, read the article. It directly refutes your claims in the Michigan article about how *market forces* demand AA.

    ...but thank you for the good night wishes, baby.
     
  5. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    It's okay to criticize the source as an after-thought, but when it is your complete argument....:eek:
     
  6. Manny Ramirez

    Manny Ramirez The Music Man

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    Yea, really.

    texxx,

    Thanks for the informative read.
     
  7. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Get it straight. Market forces don't demand it, they have demanded it. It's the most desirable and efficient outcome and the one that society has volutarily chosen, and that business, military, and academic institutions overwhelingly support, your anectdotes notwithstanding.

    I know it's tough to put down your silly theorizing from armchair, wannabe social scientists from the NRO (btw, the article excludes the deplorable statistical record of the NFL in excluding minorities from head coaching positions, where white former players make up something like 40% of all players, but 90% of all coaches. The National Review would NEVER leave the NFL's history of discrimination out on purpose, would they?). But you just have to get in step with the fact AA is here to stay, because that is the outcome that we have chosen as it is the one that works the best.

    Sucks for you.


    Giddyup/Manny: I don't really give a rats ass. I've said all I need to say on this issue in the other thread. Read it if you want, or don't I don't care.
     
  8. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    Well, I shouldn't speak for Manny, but what the hell.... Thanks for putting us in our place with your usual rude demeanor. I don't have a rat's ass but if I did it would surely be headed your way. :D
     
  9. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Oh I forgot to anticipate your pavlovian need to reply within 30 minutes lest somebody else get in the last word.

    I suppose I should have left your name out of it so that I could experience the orgiastic satisfaction of having had the final say to myself one day.

    And you castigate me for not being substantive?

    Ho hum. :(
     
  10. Manny Ramirez

    Manny Ramirez The Music Man

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    You show your lack of class yet again.

    Judging from your constant rude, obnoxious, and insulting posts, you must be one angry and bitter man.

    I mean I have never in the 2 plus years that I have been on this board seen such a highly insulting and derogatory individual as yourself. Every post I read from you has some tinged insult in it or comes across as "You big stupid f*cking idiot. I am SamFisher, expert on EVERYTHING, how dare you go against me! Foolish mortal!" does evil laugh...

    Are there posters that I do not agree with on political things? Sure, all the time. But unlike you, they are classy and respectful (although some times things do get heated but it happens to all of us). I am talking about people like Jeff, JAG, Rocketman95, GreenVegan76, Batman Jones (quiet, TJ!), etc.

    It is a pleasure to discuss things with them and I find myself learning stuff or seeing things from a different perspective, and to me, that is what important. Because when you look at the big picture, who really cares about a bunch of Internet geeks talking about politics? Yet, if I am going to take the time to do this, I might as well learn something or open my mind. I don't see that with you.
     
    #10 Manny Ramirez, Sep 3, 2003
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2003
    1 person likes this.
  11. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    Two things about this column, first of all Matt Millen hiring two of his buddies is no defense of the current situation that the NFL is trying to rectify. The column freely admits that Marriuci is Millen's buddy, and Millen's last hire was his buddy, Mornhinweg. Now if you want to argue that GM's and owners have a right to hire their buddy, then that's your perogative. Other than that, Millen is the poster child for the good-ole boy system the NFL is trying to rectify. His last hire was a disaster, and was questioned from day one. So isn't the best guy to defend the current situation with.





    What this column fails to mention about Erickson is that his last NFL experience was a failure. He's a known alcoholic. And he ran a renegade program at Oregan St, after leaving another at Miami. Oh did I mention he wasn't successful in the NFL? Again, if you want argue that the 49er have the right to that's your perogative, but the fact of the matter is he is also an unsuccessful recycled coach with his fair share of skeletons in his closet. Again, this guy is the poster child coach for what is wrong with NFL hiring policies.
     
  12. bnb

    bnb Contributing Member

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    The source may be questionable, but the symphony example was pretty strong. Hard to argue racisim played a role in hiring if the audition was truly 'blind.'

    And football team owners are free to hire their buddies. If they all overlook good black coaches, then there should be some great potential coaches available for the few owners who are not so blind. The NFL is doing the right thing in 'training' black coaches -- creating a pool of qualified candidates. It's in the teams best interest not to ignore these coaches when hiring. But sham interviews?? Not really sure what's being accomplished. When each team only has one coach, it's hard to implement AA.

    It may be an option in some places, but not all.

    And Sam...decaf...you've been working too hard.
     
  13. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    Erickson sure is proving himself to be a quality head coach. I don't know how anyone could question his hiring.:rolleyes:
     
  14. MacBeth

    MacBeth Member

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    Uh...since week one he has been without 3/5ths of his starting OL, his starting TE, 3/4 of his starting dbs are hurt/out, 2 lbs, a dt, etc... and Terrell Owens had a mid week blow up.

    I'd say that he has neither proven nor disproven anything, as yet.


    On another note, I'm firmly against affirmative action, not because I'm racist, but because I'm so opposed to racism.

    AA raises the walls we're trying to tear down...racism is definition based on race. AA heightens that practice. We need to strive towards getting to a place where race is irrelevent, and I don't think that making it a hiring requirement gets us there, in fact it's the reverse. I can't even agree with the sentiment that 'at least it's doing something ', because to my mind it's doing the wrong thing; it's not just not a step forward, it's a step backwards. It promotes racism.

    I know that I have no answers...but I also can't cure your headache...but were a third party to suggest decapitation as a cure, my ignorance of how to resolve your problem would not, I think, negate my qualification from saying that decapitation is not the answer.


    In the future I am hoping that many job hirings will be able to be done via internet, especially as computer skills become more and more a part of job criteria. If/when that happens race will be entirely removed from the process, as it should be.
     
  15. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    There are many posters on this board against affirmative action, and I don't consider them racists.

    And another thing you are mistaken about, this isn't about affirmative action. This is about fair oppurtunity for all QUALIFIED candidates. Its about trying to get rid of the good ole boy system in the NFL. Its not about helping people who are disadvantaged.

    Everyone likes to paint the affirmative action brush over topics like this, but the fact is equally or more qualified coaches get passed up for retreads like Erickson all the time, and when blacks question these practices, you bring up affirmative action making the assumption that black coaches aren't as qualified which is racist.
     
    #15 pgabriel, Sep 28, 2003
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2003
  16. AroundTheWorld

    AroundTheWorld Insufferable 98er
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    Just wondering, who is it that you DO consider racist?
     
  17. El_Conquistador

    El_Conquistador King of the D&D, The Legend, #1 Ranking
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    Do you not understand that your baseless allegations of the NFL using the 'good ol' boy' system (which you can't even spell properly, btw) is inherently accusing the NFL owners of being not only being racist but not driven to win? I have said this many times, but people seem to think that because there are a lot of black players, then it logically follows that there should be a lot of black coaches. This is nonsense. Coaching requires a completely different set of skills than playing. Completely different. Just because you can bench press 500 pounds and run a 4.4 40 does not mean that you can provide leadership, create offensive and defensive schemes, and be a good ambassador for your organization.

    By the way, how is Willingham working out at Notre Dame this year? Oops! I guess that poster boy for your flawed system has come and gone.
     
  18. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    how did he do last year?
    The year before at Standford?

    Rocket River
     
  19. El_Conquistador

    El_Conquistador King of the D&D, The Legend, #1 Ranking
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    Willingham started the season hot last year at Notre Dame and then faded fast, losing to Boston College and then losing back-to-back games against USC and NC State. They ended the season on a real downer after being blown out in the Gater Bowl -- a far cry from the BCS bowl that Notre Dame's talent suggests they should have been in.

    Who is "Standford"?

    What Willingham has done to the Notre Dame program this year is really sad. Their talent suggests that they should have many more victories. Willingham was *the* poster boy for AA. Now what?
     
  20. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    I'm not sure Notre Dame's talent level is BCS worthy. They'd been having some really down years before Willingham got there, IIRC.
     

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