The Bible talks openly about God “creating man in his own image,” and accordingly to a new report by statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight, disgraced former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden sought to do the same with the Raiders roster.
We all remember back in 2015, when running back LeSean McCoy made an alarming accusation about his former coach Chip Kelly after the now 57-year-old traded him from the Philadelphia Eagles to the no man’s land that was the Buffalo Bills at the time.
“The relationship was never really great,” McCoy fumed to ESPN the Magazine. “He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth. [...] It’s hard to explain with him. But there’s a reason he got rid of all the black players—the good ones—like that.”
To further validate McCoy’s accusation, former Eagles assistant coach Tra Thomas suggested there was a “hint of racism” in Kelly’s decision making, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith took to First Take shortly thereafter to provide backup.
“Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable,” Smith said. “I think that’s fair to say. I mean, we’re sitting here looking at some of the decisions that Chip Kelly makes and I’m like what is up? What’s up with that? I mean, it’s like you’ve got to be his kind of guy, you know? And I’m like, well, Riley Cooper’s your kind of guy?”
He continued, “Now I’m not saying I know, I’m just saying that it does strike me as a tad bit odd. I’m going to repeat this. Gone: LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, you know, DeSean Jackson. Staying: Riley Cooper. Really? Really? OK.”
Michael Tesler of FiveThirtyEight notes that this accusation prompted him to do his own research on the matter, and he made some rather interesting discoveries:
The accusations against Kelly — now the coach at UCLA — prompted my own statistical investigation into how race might matter in NFL roster decisions. My analysis of data collected on each player’s racial background from Best Tickets’ Unofficial 2014 NFL Player Census found that the 10 teams in 2014 who had Black people in the key leadership roles of head coach and/or general manager had significantly more Black players on their rosters than the 22 other NFL teams. No team did more to drive that year’s statistically significant negative correlation between whiter team leadership and having fewer Black players on NFL rosters than Kelly’s Eagles. In fact, the significant differences between the percentage of Black players on the Eagles (50.9 percent) and the rest of the NFL (68.3 percent) were beyond the statistical threshold that the courts and federal bureaucracy generally recognize as potential discrimination.
On the opposite end of the spectrum were the Raiders, who coincidentally enough, had a Black general manager calling the shots.
Under the leadership of the team’s African-American general manager, Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders (then playing in Oakland) had a higher share of Black players on their roster (79.2 percent) than any other NFL team in 2014. According to data compiled on the racial composition of each NFL team’s roster by ProFootballLogic, the Raiders also had the NFL’s highest percentage of Black players (82.3 percent) in 2016—the year that McKenzie won executive of the year honors after the team’s impressive 12-win showing. It’s probably not a coincidence, either, that the two teams with the next highest shares of Black players, the Giants and Bills, also had African-American GMs. Indeed, the five NFL teams with Black GMs in 2016 had rosters that were, on average, 75.4 percent Black, compared with 67.7 percent for the 27 teams that did not—a statistically significant difference.
The Raiders’ racial composition was pretty much the same in 2017, when Gruden signed a lucrative 10-year deal with the franchise. But by the end of the 2018 season, after McKenzie was fired, Gruden became more directly involved with personnel decisions. And, well...
Now does that mean that all of those roster decisions were racially motivated? Nope. But given Gruden’s propensity to say the quiet part out loud, these findings don’t exactly come as a surprise and are indicative of his well-documented anti-Black bias.
Andrew Lawrence of The Guardian broke this all the way down earlier this month, but for the “too long, didn’t read” crowd, here are some great points that he made:
The fact that Gruden felt free enough to insult the appearance and intelligence of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (who is also Black) in a message to Bruce Allen (then the WFT’s highest-ranking executive) over a corporate server not only confirms what most Black people around the game have long figured (this is what these white folk really think about us). It proves that Black people aren’t crazy for thinking that they’re being denied opportunities in the league because the white ruling class have no interest in sharing power with them.
You can say Gruden’s words don’t matter. But consider his 15-year track record: There are no young Black assistants in his coaching tree; Willie Shaw is the only Black person Gruden’s ever retained as a coordinator–and Shaw only lasted a couple seasons.
Lawrence also points to the Khalil Mack fiasco and the fact that Gruden has never developed a Black quarterback as further evidence that something in the water ain’t clean.
Thankfully, Gruden is no longer in the league, but we all know all it takes is one favor from the good ol’ boy network and he’ll be right back to ruining Black people’s lives.