Lovie Smith is about to get a long-overdue NFL head coaching opportunity, but the timing of it sucks.
The Athletic reported on Monday that the Houston Texans were poised to promote Smith, who is currently their associate head coach and defensive coordinator, to head coach. Smith is an obvious and deserving candidate. He needs no introduction to the Texans’ locker room or front office and can provide continuity for a team in shambles as it heads into April’s draft with question marks all over the roster.
Before joining the Texans, Smith already lived in OG territory among NFL coaches. He previously head coached both the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2005 and was defensive coordinator for the then St. Louis Rams in 2001 when they narrowly lost Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots.
He led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI in 2007, which was arguably the Blackest Super Bowl in history for featuring the only time two Black head coaches faced off in the big game (Smith’s Bears fell to Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts) and Prince headlining the halftime show. Many felt Chicago shouldn’t have fired Smith in 2012. Even more thought he deserved more time to turn the Bucs around when they let him go after the 2015 season and that with a resume like his, Smith shouldn’t have waited seven years for another bite at the apple.
Smith is now 63 and even after waiting almost a decade, has a lot of time ahead of him to remake the Texans, who finished last season with four wins and 13 Ls. But instead of being a celebratory moment for those of us rooting for a Black coach who earned and finally received his due, the NFL managed to make this feel like a very shitty time for that to happen.
Smith’s hiring comes as the NFL is under fire, again, over race, specifically for having only one Black head coach among 32 teams. Last week the league responded to former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit by saying it was “without merit.” By Saturday, Commissioner Roger Goodell had changed the league’s tune, sending all 32 teams a memo that said that, “We understand the concerns expressed by Coach Flores and others,” and that the league’s efforts to diversify the head coaching ranks “have been unacceptable.”
A day later, the Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, a biracial coach who had been the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, to replace Flores. Now, the Texans are reportedly about to hire Smith. Assuming Smith lands the Texans gig, it means NFL teams went from having one Black head coach and filling seven of nine vacancies with white men, to filling the final two head coaching jobs with one Black coach and one biracial one in just three days.
CleverMade Collapsible Storage Bins
Lightweight yet heavy duty
Good storage bins are essential for keeping your home or office organized and clutter-free. These are versatile, collapsible containers that come in various shapes and sizes that also stack together.
It takes me longer to scramble eggs than it seems to have taken the NFL to find Diversity Jesus and that’s sad because Lovie Smith absolutely deserves his accomplishment to be viewed through an unjaundiced lens. He deserves to not have the number of Black coaches in the league tallied after every sentence that includes his name. He deserves the opportunity to figure out what to do with Deshaun Watson and the rest of the subpar roster he’s inheriting without being a vector for collective cynicism about the Rooney Rule, from both the left and the right. But the league itself has made that impossible because it keeps pissing on our looking glass and expecting fans to see clearly.