Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tom Brady won his 7th Super Bowl. Who cares?
Super Bowl LV was about much more than just Tom Brady—it was a seminal moment for so many others. So instead of heaping all the praise on some wayward white man, here’s who also deserves their flowers in the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl Sunday.
If there’s one thing Black folks hate hearing, it’s the word “meritocracy.” It’s textbook definition implies that people are hired based solely on their abilities, but in America, as has been the case for hundreds of years, we all know better. Time and time and time and time again, Black folks get passed up for positions and opportunities in favor of those who are woefully underqualified or just flat out have the complexion for protection. It’s an infuriating process that we all know too well, and in the NFL specifically, owners and front office personnel routinely go to great lengths to box our Black asses out.
Thankfully, head coach Bruce Arians understands both the benefits and importance of fostering a diverse workplace and has made it a priority during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“A player is gonna ask the coach, ‘How are you gonna make me better?’” he told ESPN prior to the Super Bowl. “He doesn’t really care if the answer comes from a male or female, Black, white, brown, yellow, who—[it’s] just ‘help me be better’. The best teachers I had were all different races, all different ethnic groups, male and female. If you can teach, you can coach.”
So while just about every other organization in the league can’t seem to find anyone but white men to hire when vacancies inevitably become available, a cursory glance at Arians’ coaching staff reveals there is plenty of capable Black and brown talent within the NFL’s ecosystem.
Harold Goodwin? Arians’ assistant head coach and run game coordinator? He’s Black. The Bucs defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles? He’s Black, too. And Byron Leftwich, their offensive coordinator? Yup, Black. Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong? Black.
And it doesn’t stop there: Arians has at least nine other coaches on his staff who identify as people of color—most of whom are Blackity-Black. There’s also the fact that his assistant strength and conditioning coach and assistant defensive line coach are women, which made them the first female coaches in NFL history to win a Super Bowl.
So the next time you hear some bullshit from the NFL about a shortage of Black and brown candidates being available for coaching positions, kindly tell the league to go fuck itself because clearly, we’re there. They just make a conscious decision to ignore us—and last I checked, we just won a Super Bowl.
At this point in her career, breaking boundaries has become a habit. But don’t think for a minute that that minimizes one of her biggest accomplishments yet: becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl.
Clap it up for Thomas, who became a full-time NFL official in 2015 and has been forging new ground for women in sports ever since.
Ahh, yes. The real MVPs.
All praise due to each and every soul who took to Twitter and made Colin Kaepernick a trending topic during the Super Bowl. Trotting out Black recording artists and Inspire Change commercials is cute, but while the NFL has made it a point to assert that Black lives matter, they’ve also been supporting Republican candidates who’ve made it their mission in life to proclaim otherwise. There’s also the discriminatory protocols that remain in place for its concussion settlement program, the fact that there’s a grand total of three head coaches and one team president in the entire league who are Black and a bunch of other problematic shit.
So while many of us have reconciled our love for the game with the organization responsible for facilitating it, there’s still a significant number of us who stand with Kap and refuse to partake.
And they made their voices loud and proud on Sunday.