Despite Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers’ insistence that the wonderful world of sports is a “colorblind meritocracy,” I regret to inform you that no, it’s actually not. In fact, it’s very much the complete opposite.
I could trot out a million examples as to why that is, but instead, I’ll just point and laugh at the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which exists solely to taunt and torment Black head coaching candidates. For those unfamiliar with this policy that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and front office gigs, what actually happens is teams completely waste said candidate’s time by only interviewing them because they have to. Then they go on to hire whatever white guy is the flavor of the week that they wanted to hire in the first place—deserving or not—and wash, rinse, and repeat.
I also said this:
It’s abundantly clear that the [Rooney Rule] doesn’t work—since 2003, there’ve been 108 head coaching vacancies and only 21 of them were filled with minority candidates—and is in dire need of a drastic overhaul, and per ESPN, the latest changes to the Rooney Rule only appear to increase the amount of embarrassment that minority candidates will incur each hiring cycle.
For those wondering what those “latest changes” are that were implemented in October, here you go—courtesy of ESPN:
The NFL has instituted some policy changes to the Rooney Rule designed to further enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring practices.
The rule has been expanded to require teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for general manager/executive of football operations positions and all coordinator roles. Beforehand, the requirement was to interview one minority candidate from outside a team for openings in those positions.
NFL clubs now must conduct an in-person interview for at least one external minority candidate for any head coach or general manager opening. All coordinator and assistant general manager candidates can be interviewed virtually, but in-person interviews are being encouraged.
Translation: Instead of wasting one minority candidate’s time, now the league is going to waste the time of two. Yay! Reparations!
This brings us to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Back in January, they gave college football demigod Urban Meyer the world, only for it to blow up spectacularly in his face. So with Meyer’s NFL coaching career buried in the backyard somewhere next to Shahid Khan’s goldfish, the team is in dire need of a savior who’ll douse the organization with a fire extinguisher and right the ship.
But before they inevitably bring in another white messiah, they’ve gotta knock out their token interviews first. And since Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has done a masterful job of bringing in a cadre of premium assistant coaches who just so happen to be Blackity-Black-Black-Black, the Jags are like, “Oh, hey niggas! We got chicken! Pull up!”
OK, in all seriousness: is it a remote possibility that either Leftwich—who previously played for Jacksonville once upon a time—or Bowles could become the Jags’ next head coach? Sure! But history has taught us that the odds of that happening are slim, and it’s also impossible to ignore that they probably wouldn’t even be getting interviews if—wait for it—the Rooney Rule wasn’t in place.
Despite Urban Meyer hurling a shrapnel grenade at TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville is still a desirable landing spot for the next would-be head coach. Trevor Lawrence has demonstrated tremendous promise despite a rocky rookie campaign, and with a patient owner and plenty of cap space at its disposal, the Jags won’t be world-beaters anytime soon, but with the right moves, respectability is right around the corner.
It just remains to be seen if a Black head coach will have the opportunity to help correct the team’s course.