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OK, as we near the end of the NFL regular season, it's time to start thinking about coaching changes. And with coaching changes come the gratuitous "We need more minority coaches" pieces. This may be the season's first. ESPN's Michael Smith opens with praise for the accomplishments of three black NFL head coaches this season.

His root point: I'm going to single out black coaches to say how I think we don't need to single out black coaches any more and I just wish everyone would stop.

In fairness, Smith himself is black. I'm still trying to figure out if that makes a difference. Does it make the piece any less ridiculous? No. Granted, I would be even more annoyed if this were one of the pieces regularly put out there by white writers on a slow news day, to show how enlightened they are by praising minority coaches.

If it's time to stop thinking of black coaches distinctly from any others, then this piece should never have been published or written for that matter.

OK, it really should never have been written, because Smith clearly has an axe to grind and it results in shoddy journalism.
"At this point, frankly, anyone who isn't completely color-blind is blind, deaf and dumb."
True enough, but perhaps you could have found a more professional way to make your point.

Smith starts by straight up touting the accomplishments of Lovie Smith, Tony Dungy, and Marvin Smith. No complaint here. Saying that these are the three best coaches in the NFL may be a minor stretch. But they are all doing amazing things this season and without a doubt all three are in the top 6-8. I'd have no problem making Lewis #1, and Smith 2 or 3. I have no problem with the job Tony Dungy is doing. It's just that with his stacked team, is he making as much of a difference as say, Mike Holmgren in Seattle?

But I digress. About five paragraphs in, Smith points out that he hasn't pointed out that all three are black, and it all falls apart from there. Smith touts the accomplishments of other black head coaches, including Dennis Green, now with the Arizona Cardinals:
"Look at what Romeo Crennel is doing with the Browns, what Dennis Green will (eventually, let's hope) do in Arizona."
Why? Why would we hope that Green will do well any more than we'd hope Jon Gruden will do well, or Joe Gibbs will do well, or Mike Tice, etc., etc. OK, I guess if you want to go Pollyana we could just wish that they'd all do well and we could live happily ever after with all 32 teams having 8-8 records and just agreeing to split the Lombardi Trophy. That isn't going to happen. There's no shame in admitting a coach isn't doing well in Arizona. Arizona is perpetually terrible. Don't put it on the coach. Besides, why work so hard at using Arizona to bolster Green's case when his Viking resume stands alone as a testament to the man's outstanding coaching ability.

The point is, singling out Dennis Green to say, "let's hope he will do well," is just the kind of racism that Smith says should have already completely disappeared. Or maybe Smith is blind, deaf and dumb. I don't know. I didn't check his bio.

His concluding paragraphs argue that teams should not be following the minority hiring rules just to avoid a fine. They should want to interview minority candidates. Here again, true enough. Mind you, Smith doesn't go anywhere near proposing that the rules be done away with, or that there be no fines.

"It'd be a shame to hear or read about some franchise interviewing a minority simply to comply with the rules."
But you will hear or read about them. There will be gnashing of teeth from the peanut gallery. Why? Because Smith and the like will be watching like a hawk, counting the interviews, and tossing out the names of equally good coaches that could have been hired if and when a team chooses a white coach, but not if and when they choose a minority coach.

When we think of racism, the blatant, egregious examples come to mind. But, there are many more subtle ways to perpetuate the race problem. Smith's piece was exhibit A.


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