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Ed Driscoll

NFL, Old Media Goes Back to Blood

January 20th, 2013 - 2:57 pm

Peter King of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO’s Sports Illustrated believes that nearly half of all NFL team owners are closet racists. Found via Twitchy, another Twitter user punches back, twice as a hard, as the president is wont to say:

King isn’t the only one in old media throwing mud at the NFL, as frequent PJM contributor Tom Blumer wrote at Newsbusters yesterday: “AP, ESPN, and the League Itself Don’t Like the Lack of ‘Diversity’ in This Year’s Coaching Changes:”

Stephen A. Smith [of ESPN] wondered why African-American Lovie Smith, who was fired by the Chicago Bears (a move with which Smith agreed), didn’t land a job elsewhere — “I’m appalled. I’m disgusted. … seven (of the eight openings) will be first-time head coaches, and … Andy Reid (who is white) gets a head coaching job. … This is disgraceful. … this is the kind of stuff that makes people think that there are two sets of rules … It’s unconsciounable.” Skip Bayless, in his discussion with Smith, opined that “there are a lot of high-risk hires” among those who got jobs. Bayless believes that “college football should have a Rooney Rule” because the list of available and qualified minority candidates seemed lean.

Last night on SportsCenter, I heard (but couldn’t find the related video at ESPN’s site) former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefts coach Herm Edwards, who is African-American, say in essence that the Rooney Rule should be renamed, because the Rooney family would be ashamed about its lack of results this year.

As stated earlier, unless someone can demonstrate otherwise, the default assumption has to be that owners picked the person who gives them the best chance to win. As to the lack of a pipeline of African-American candidates, something the NFL itself acknowledged, the people involved should be asking why, with the NFL and NCAA Division I football so highly populated with star African-American players, so few of those same players seem to take any interest in becoming coaches. The answers may not be comfortable, but until that situation changes, blaming owners who want to win won’t accomplish anything.

At the start of the year, when Lovie Smith was fired by the Bears, Ben Shapiro wrote at Breitbart Sports:

When Johnnie Cochran went insane over the firing of Tony Dungy from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001 after Dungy went 9-7 as head coach, the league instituted the so-called Rooney Rule, requiring teams to interview at least one black candidate for every coaching position. The result has been an absurd system of token interviews and systemic oddities. Meanwhile, Dungy went on to have a successful career in Indianapolis – before the Rooney Rule was instituted – and the year after Dungy left Tampa Bay, Jon Gruden took over and led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. The model “racist” firing wasn’t racist. It was business, Sonny, not personal.

The facts are these: Smith was fired for doing a mediocre job – and this season, an almost unprecedentedly-awful job. It can’t be stated enough. He started 7-1; he finished 3-5. His team was not killed mid-season in a tragic fruit truck incident. Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat every year for similar numbers. The difference is that he wins a Super Bowl every so often. Lovie Smith’s teams win a playoff game every so often.

But the media is playing the decision as though it’s utterly inconceivable. Hence these results of an ESPN poll from around the country: every state but Illinois thinks, by wide margins, that Smith should have been retained. As for Illinois – where most Bears fans live – they wanted Smith gone by a margin of 62-38.

The hubbub over Smith has been deafening compared to the non-hubbub over Reid and Turner. The media outrage over the firing of Smith will likely intensify this week because of his race; after all, Michael Wilbon said last year, “Don’t spit in my face and tell me it’s raining. Progress will be when 65 percent of coaches are African-American, not 20 percent.” Don’t look for the media to stop playing the perpetual outrage game every time a decent black coach is fired. And the more often the media plays that game, the less likely that teams will consider good black candidates for head coaching positions, knowing that the media will blast them for firing them if they believe it is the right football decision.

As the years of “Most-Racial America” continue to grind on, the attitude of old media — and many in the NFL’s head offices — can be summed up thusly:

A phrase pops into his head from out of nowhere. “Everybody… all of them… it’s back to blood! Religion is dying… but everybody still has to believe in something. It would be intolerable— you couldn’t stand it— to finally have to say to yourself, ‘Why keep pretending? I’m nothing but a random atom inside a supercollider known as the universe.’ But believing in by definition means blindly, irrationally, doesn’t it. So, my people, that leaves only our blood, the bloodlines that course through our very bodies, to unite us. ‘La Raza!’ as the Puerto Ricans cry out. ‘The Race!’ cries the whole world. All people, all people everywhere, have but one last thing on their minds— Back to blood!” All people, everywhere, you have no choice but— Back to blood!

– From (not surprisingly), Tom Wolfe’s latest novel of the same name.

Incidentally, since I’ve been meaning to link a recent article by Mark Judge at Acculturated, it’s worth mentioning that the most rabid NFL fans aren’t entirely immune from criticism themselves. Judge is describing the manic fans of his favorite team, the Washington Redskins, but what he’s writing about is applicable to the fan bases of most NFL teams:

Something has gone wrong with professional football and its fans, if the past season of the Washington Redskins is any indication. I was born and raised in Washington and grew up with the Redskins, but it has been several years since I cared about the team. To be blunt, Redskins fandom has turned into an unhealthy mania for the team, a craze that is sad, desperate, and, as the injuring of the team’s star quarterback Robert Griffin III shows, dangerous to prudence, honesty, and basic decency.

Whether we’re discussing the attitudes inside old media’s editorial bullpens, the NFL’s swank Park Avenue home office, and the increasingly rabid mania of the average fan for his team, the change in the culture over the past few decades both high and low is palpable.

And entirely expected.

Update: Given that football is essentially a stylized version of a military battle, this recent article titled “Merit and Preferences: Never the Twain Shall Meet” by  J.A. Cauthen, a former history instructor at the Naval Academy is worth reading for contrast to all of the above:

Our nation’s civilian and military leadership evidently desire a more diverse military, one that better reflects demographic currents and those to come.

What they are overlooking is that military effectiveness is predicated on discipline, professionalism, and competence. Effective leadership is based on, among other qualities, trust, confidence, fairness, and competence. Everything else, including ethnicity and gender, is, or at least ought to be, irrelevant.

Winning wars, like winning in sports, requires the best talent, irrespective of race and gender. If our military is comprised of all white males or all Hispanic females because they merit the position, so be it. But to artificially construct a military based on a desired composition simply because it reflects the nation’s changing demographics or satisfies a political fetish is egregiously foolish.

How old-fashioned and reactionary!

Related: (Very much related, particularly to the Acculturated article.) An Atlanta Falcons fan, angry over his team’s loss in today’s NFC Championship Game, punched a San Francisco 49ers fan who had also attended the game, who in turn stabbed him in the neck outside the Georgia Dome. This according to Atlanta’s WSBTV-2, which also reports that the stabbing victim’s condition is currently unknown.

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