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Editorial: Super Bowl should be about accomplishments, not race February 4, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in African Americans, African-American, Black, Black coaches, Black coaches NFL, Blacks, Card, Chicago Bears, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, ESPN, Football, Indianapolis Colts, institutional racism, Jeffri Chadiha, Jim Nantz, John Clayton, Lovie Smith, New England Patriots, NFL, Peyton Manning, Racism, Racist, Sports Illustrated, Super Bowl, Super Bowl XLI, Tony Dungy.

By: Wes Blevins

When Lovie Smith’s Chicago Bears beat the New Orleans Saints, and when Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts defeated the New England Patriots, the two men became the first black head coaches to advance to the Super Bowl in the game’s 41-year history.

And it didn’t take long for the media to take notice.

Not one minute after Colts quarterback Peyton Manning took a knee to seal the AFC Championship, CBS’ Jim Nantz gushed over the fact that not one, but two African-American coaches have finally made it to the nation’s grandest sporting event. And get this – one of them is going to win!

Every major sports Web site featured a column on the momentous occasion.

ESPN’s John Clayton wrote, “The NFL has been waiting 41 years for the first African-American head coach to patrol the sidelines at a Super Bowl. Now there will be two, and one will be the winner. Actually, the nation will be the winner in this one.”

Sports Illustrated columnist Jeffri Chadiha joined in the celebration as well.

“You have to understand this isn’t merely about the Super Bowl,” he wrote. “It’s about a cultural shift. It’s about progress.”

If Super Bowl XLI represents progress, what is the NFL progressing from?

In 2006, out of 32 NFL teams, there were seven black head coaches.

Now that the regular season has ended, two have been fired: Arizona’s Dennis Green and Oakland’s Art Shell.

With Pittsburgh’s hiring of Mike Tomlin, there will be at least seven black head coaches next season, with one opening yet to be filled as of yesterday afternoon. So nearly 20 percent of NFL coaches next season will be black.

Because no black head coach has ever made it to the Super Bowl, we’re supposed to assume that some sort of institutional racism exists within the NFL.

The majority of NFL players are black, it is argued, so the proportion of white coaches to black coaches should be more evenly matched.

It is true, perhaps, that the NFL was late in bringing blacks into the coaching fraternity, with Art Shell becoming the first in the league’s modern era as head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1990.

Since the 1990s, however, black coaches have been given numerous opportunities to coach in the NFL.

Some have had success. Dennis Green went 15-1 with the Minnesota Vikings before losing in the NFC Championship game.

Tony Dungy built the long-suffering Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a playoff team, and it was his players who won Super Bowl XXXVII under Jon Gruden.

And Lovie Smith has returned the Chicago Bears to playoff form after several seasons of setbacks.

At the same time, some white head coaches have succeeded, while many more have been fired.

For every successful coach like Bill Belichick or Tony Dungy, there is a plethora of bad coaches – black and white: Mike Tice, Art Shell, Butch Davis, Dom Capers et al.

If the media never mentioned the fact that two black coaches will coach Super Bowl XLI, at least 90 percent of the game’s viewers wouldn’t even take notice.

Isn’t that the way it should be? Isn’t that the ultimate goal of the Civil Rights movement? Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of not judging people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Or for NFL standards, by their coaching record.

It’s because sportswriters and columnists (myself not excluded) choose to draw attention to it that this becomes an issue in the first place.

There is no league-wide institutional racism in the NFL that keeps blacks and other minorities out of the coaching ranks.

There is, however, racism in the form of paternalism in media pundits and sportswriters who will likely spend the next two weeks patting themselves on the back for the accomplishments of two successful NFL head coaches who happen to be black.

CARD {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: utcecho.com

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