Over the past year, America has gone through a racial awakening of sorts, but that doesn’t mean things have changed all that much. For example, by and large, white people still don’t really believe Black people when we say something racist has happened to us. That’s why Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has defended the hiring of Chris Doyle—the former University of Iowa strength and conditioning coach who Black athletes have basically called the David Duke of college football—to be the Jaguars’ director of sports performance.
From the Daily News:
The Jaguars announced the hiring of Chris Doyle on Thursday, touting his 16 bowl games and 55 NFL picks in 21 years at Iowa. Conspicuously absent: where he’s been since 2019, his last full season as the Iowa strength and conditioning coach. That’s because he was fired in June 2020 after dozens of Black players said that Doyle was racist and abusive towards them.
It’s been a cushy career for Doyle, who was the nation’s highest-paid strength coach while at Iowa, making $800,000 in 2019. His “firing” was a separation agreement for a million bucks paid out in just two installments. And now he’s getting a promotion, not only to the NFL but as a new job as “Director of Sport Performance.”
Players said that Doyle was physically abusive and gave white players preferential treatment while saying things like “back to the ghetto” to Black players.
Doyle and his then-boss, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, denied the allegations. One player says he was suspended for criticizing Doyle in front of the team. In 2011, 13 Iowa players were hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis (stress-induced muscle damage that can lead to kidney failure) after an over-the-top Doyle workout.
As a Black person who has worked in multiple predominantly white environments, I can tell you that white people referencing the ghetto when speaking to or about Black people (especially Black subordinates) is common AF. It’s racism that doesn’t register as racism to willfully oblivious white people because, as long as there’s no n-word involved, plausible deniability will be the name of the game (of bigotry). So while Doyle—whose “firing” was really just him getting paid $1 million to go be racist somewhere else—has denied the allegations against him, Black people who are well-familiarized with casual racism are not going to have much trouble believing his accusers.
After all, we’re not just talking about one accuser—although one would be enough for me—dozens of Black athletes have accused Doyle of being Rush Limbaugh with a whistle and clipboard.
In fact, one can only wonder if any of those dozens of Black people were consulted during what Meyer believes was a super-thorough vetting process.
“I feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position,” Meyer told reporters of his decision to add bald-headed Don Imus to his coaching staff, CNN reports. “I vet everyone on our staff, and like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years and a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff. We did a very good job vetting that one.”
As for athletes who might be wary of racism and abuse on the field, Meyer added: “I know the person for close to 20 years, and I can assure them there will be nothing of any sort in the Jaguar facility.”
Here’s a question: How the fuck would white people know how to vet a fellow white person for anti-Black racism?
A white man knowing another white man for “close to 20 years” while ignoring or being oblivious to his friend’s racism isn’t news—and it probably isn’t actually obliviousness. I don’t have much trouble imagining that Meyer has heard his share of “Black people so ghetto” jokes while out with his buddies.
My point is, it’s easy for people who will never be victims of racism to decide that an accused racist is actually racially safe and bigotry-free. Of course Meyer trusts his own white-ass intuition over the lived experiences of dozens of Black football players.
But hey, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like the NFL’s players are nearly 70 percent Black or anything.