Like some kind of woke groundhog, sportscaster Dale Hansen every so often pops out of his hole, sees his shadow, and gives America some kind of truth bomb on what's happening in the political climate. The Texas-based anchor has shamed the Cowboys for signing domestic abuser Greg Hardy, slapped young basketball fans upside the head for racist behavior, and even sounded off on the gun debate just 'cause.
But last night, Hansen decided to point out a glaring issue in the NFL right now. His spotlight blared on the systemic racism inherent to the NFL's coaching problem, identifying the "bold" decision for the Arizona Cardinals to hire Kliff Kingsbury, who was fired from a losing Texas Tech. Kingsbury was at the time, the latest losing white head coach to get another chance (the Jets made Adam the Gase the most recent last night) and Hansen started firing off:
Before bringing up the Rooney Rule, which has required NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate since 2003, he attacked Kingsbury's hiring as a matter of white privilege.
But Kingsbury fits all the criteria to be a head coach in the NFL: He’s an offensive genius, he’s young—and he’s white, and not necessarily in that order.
There have been six new coaches hired so far, all white, and two coaches of color they are replacing: Steve Wilks, fired in Arizona after just one year, Vance Joseph in Denver after just two.
The Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is in his ninth year—apparently because he wins so much.
Hansen is definitely correct in identifying that the NFL has a severe diversity problem, but there is another issue playing out in today's NFL. Over the last decade, through either new interpretations of existing rules, or new rules altogether, the league has firmly become an offensive-driven game and the quarterback is the most important part of the equation. So as teams look to retool, they are looking for offensive-minded coaches. And here's where the diversity problem is laid bare:
With the offensive explosion we've seen of late with teams like the Chiefs (Kingsbury worked with Patrick Mahomes, to further his case), Saints, and Rams, the weight of that biased candidate field tips the scales. While things have certainly changed, there is still an obvious systemic bias against black quarterbacks—no one was asking if Sam Darnold would be better off playing wide receiver, but that's exactly the speculation that surrounded Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson—which favors white quarterbacks. When it's time to find a quarterbacks coach, or offensive coordinator, who better to hire than a former quarterback? It's going to take work from the ground up to change things at the NFL level.
This is especially noticeable after this year's particularly robust firing of black coaches at the end of the season, which highlights the NFL's minority issue as a compounded problem. Which is to say, yes, Dale, you're right, but also: you're right.