As I sit here on Super Bowl Sunday watching and listening to every pregame show that my cable provider can muster up, I am reminded that as much things change, they can sometimes remain the same and in many cases get worse.
There is a great feel good story regarding the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between John and Jim Harbaugh, who made history as the first two brothers to hold head coaching positions in the NFL, simultaneously. By the way they coach the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. With all of the anti-steroid and illegal drug tests being administered, I only have one question; are there mandatory tests for testosterone as well as other banned substances required for head coaches too? The way these two guys jump around on the sidelines during games, eyes “buggin” out of their heads I have often wondered if they were on a combination of crack and methamphetamines in addition to their daily dose of “man juice”? I wonder how much first aid was required for each one of the Harbaugh brothers as a result of their “back yard” brawls during their youth.
Many folks continue to talk negative and positive about the “Rooney Rule.” This “internal” NFL “law” stipulates that when a head coaching vacancy occurs an African-American coach must at least be “interviewed.” Is it just me or do the requirements for Black coaches to ascend to head coaching positions seem to be just a bit stiffer? Now check this out; in a Jan. 7 atlantablackstar.com article, Curtis Bunn wrote: “Andy Reid, whose Philadelphia Eagles missed the playoffs five of his last seven seasons was fired [at the conclusion of the 2012 season] and hired by Kansas City four days later. Four days. Bunn continues, “In 2002, the NFL adopted the so-called Rooney Rule, which made it a requirement that teams with head-coach openings interview at least one minority candidate. At the time, there were just two Black head coaches in the league. Today, 11 years later, there are three.”
One could correctly surmise that as long as the Steelers retain Mike Tomlin then at least symbolically, the “Rule” is doing what it is supposed to do. Now hear this. If there was a requirement (many Black folks insist that there is) that all any employer was required to do was interview a potential job seeker then hey, unemployment would be at almost 100 percent in the Black community. Now don’t get the notion that the Rooney’s are racially insensitive, that is not what I am inferring indirectly or directly. All I am attempting to point out is that the “Rule” needs to be “tweaked” in order to be the “field leveler” it was meant to be. The sporadic hiring of Black head coaches has become systemic and institutional; not only in pro football. The disparities in the college coaching ranks seem to be continuing with no end in sight. If one surveys regular job descriptions in regards to other professions in the NFL such as groundskeepers, scoreboard operators, electricians, cameramen, photographers and the like those numbers are miniscule as well. There is no “Rooney Rule” to insure that opportunities are equal in regards to news agencies hiring African-American journalists even in light of the fact that the number of Black athletes in the NFL has hovered around 65 percent since 2009. The “Mandingo syndrome” even exists within the profession of scouting. The powers that be are convinced that a lot of their own don’t have the physical tools to compete when it comes to certain “skill positions.” So it is with many management and front office positions as well.
The NFL is very, very powerful. How do I know this, boys and girls? Well for one thing, with the “fiscal cliff” still looming and the attack at Benghazi still unsolved; it is vital when the President of the United States weighs in on the safety of the game. ESPN.com reported that President Obama said in an interview with the New Republic that, “You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.” The POTUS also said that, “he would think long and hard before allowing his son to play.” Playing football should not be such a big deal that the POTUS should have to weigh in. There were no bills scheduled to be passed down in the “Big Easy” to enrich the lives of average Americans. There were no life saving vaccines hidden away in the bowels of the Superdome just waiting for Beyonce to discover them, (that would be cool as heck though). Whatever they come up with, just remember, football is a violent game, played by violent men, loved by a bloodthirsty society. See, they will even use an African-American president as a smoke screen. The Baltimore Ravens took an intentional safety to win Super Bowl XLVII by the score of 34-31. It seems to me that the “Rooney Rule” as it is now will almost certainly keep the safety net in place for NFL owners to keep African-American head coaching hires at a minimum.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)