Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NFL Hiring Practices

I should probably admit my bias straight up here. I am pretty interested in racial issues in our country and come down pretty square in the middle most of the time (i.e. Al Sharpton et al are morons but there is a problem). With that stated, I am concerned with how this offseason has commenced with NFL hiring practices.

There were 10 NFL head coaching vacancies just a bit ago. That's a full third of the league. Of the 10 vacancies, 9 have been filled (only Oakland remains). Of those 9, only one is a minority, and that is the "retread" Herm Edwards. Something is fishy in the state of Denmark.

We can argue semantics until we are blue in the face, but at the end of the day, in a sport where the majority of players are black, the lack of coaches is pretty poor, especially considering the success many have had. Tony Dungy and Marvin Lewis have resurrected perennial losers. Lewis had to wait another five years before truly being given his chance. Romeo Crennel had to win Super Bowl after Super Bowl before Cleveland came calling. Lovie Smith made the Rams play defense. The point being, it's not like the coaches who have been given a chance have been terrible.

What's the deal? Why the apparent lack of progress? My first thought actually has to do with college. Good college coaches like Nick Saban (and now Kirk Ferentz) are always in demand. When there are only two (I believe) Division I head coaches who are black, it doesn't exactly flood the ol' talent pool. This means that there are far more white options available. Do the percentages, pick a name out of the hat, and chances are the minority doesn't win.

Let's be honest, there were some solid white coaches who didn't get a shout. Why Jim Bates isn't someone's head coach is beyond me. Same goes with Mike Martz (for all his flaws) and Mike Sherman. Those are proven winners. Steve Mariucci deserves another shot. Here's the flaw again... the pool is too full of one kind, so teams choose the "best candidate" which just so happens to always be white.

Paul Tagliabue has stated some help will be forthcoming to potential minority head coaching candidates in the form of training and networking. That networking is the next large problem, what is termed "institutional racism". I don't particularly buy that all NFL owners are racist. That would seem odd to people who hand out millions of dollars to minority players to discriminate against them. But in many cases the NFL search is one large "good ol' boy" network. Even Herm Edwards landed his job because of his prior relationship with Chiefs GM Carl Peterson. Eric Mangini is only 35 and has just one year of being an NFL coordinater but since he was friends with the Jets assistant GM and has the name Bill Belichick on his resume he could walk in. Mike McCarthy could say he knew Brett Favre and get the Green Bay job. Institutional racism keeps solid head coaching candidates like Ron Rivera on the sidelines.

I mean seriously, why does Ron Rivera not have a job this offseason? Did any coordinater have a better season (besides that awful game plan against Carolina)? What about Tim Lewis, who until Antonio Pierce went down was leading a young, aggressive Giant defense to the playoffs? Or Donnie Henderson, whose NY Jets defense hit the league hard last year? Even Mike Singletary has been turning heads. At least one of these men deserved a chance.

If you want to quibble over individual hires, here are my thoughts...

Kansas City - Herm Edwards - major coup getting a guy who has been to the playoffs a few times.
Buffalo - Dick Jauron - what? Ridiculous hire of a retread. Buffalo could have done way better.
Houston - Gary Kubiak - legitimate example of a white coordinator who deserved a job years ago.
New Orleans - Sean Payton - Colin likes him. I have never been that impressed with anyone who had his play calling responsibilities stripped by the one and only Jim Fassel.
Green Bay - Mike McCarthy - I don't like this on any level. Terrible.
Detroit - Rod Marinelli - Hiring process was bad, but I withhold too much judgment. I think Rivera or Henderson were better candidates.
St Louis - Scott Linehan - The Rams are already set on offense, so they should have looked to defense. Still, Linehan deserved a job.
Minnesota - Brad Childress - any offensive coordinator who doesn't call plays and who can't devise a system that involves running the football isn't worth much in my books.
New York Jets - Eric Mangini - 35 year old who has proven nothing passes over better talent. Go Jets.

Progress is funny and one cannot look at one season as a watershed. Still, it is apparent the league still has a problem and until teams take more chances on unproven coaches who happen to be minorities, "institutional racism" will continue to be a problem. If you'd like another take on this, Michael Smith of ESPN is different than me.

posted by Gavin @ 2:18 PM  2 comments


At 2:15 PM, Anonymous MarinerGeek said...

What? The Mariners are in the Superbowl? Why didn't anybody tell me? The game's not next Monday is it, because I'm going whale watching next monday.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous marinergeek said...

OK, so that last comment was supposed to be in your "Laid Back" post. :-/


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