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The NFL and Racial Bean Counters
by Patrick Bryson
20 January 2003 

Johnnie Cochran has vowed to sue the National Football League if teams don't hire more black head coaches. Cochran is nothing more than a racial bean counter.

Johnnie Cochran’s has vowed to sue the National Football League if teams don’t hire more black head coaches.

Cochran believes, as all the affirmative action faithful do, that the law should be used to bring equality.

Numbers! They put their faith in numbers, percentages. They want to use those percentages to force American business to “look like American,” meaning that they must have the same racial mix as the country.

So, let’s play the game. In the spirit of Johnnie Cochran, lets worship before the god of numbers.

Let’s make the entire NFL look like America. Let’s make the NFL a fair workplace for everyone.

Cochran and his cronies are angry because there are only two black head coaches out of 32 teams in the National Football League, Tony Dungy of the Colts and Herman Edwards of the Jets. That means blacks make up about six percent of NFL head coaches. That is, admittedly, a disgraceful percentage when you remember that blacks make up 14 percent of the population.

Now let’s project the same standards for hiring coaches onto the NFL as a whole.
Blacks make up probably about 50 percent of the NFL, far exceeding the 14 percent population number. There are approximately 1696 active players in the NFL. To get the NFL to look like America approximately 516 black players must be replace by whites.

Let’s look at the NFL by position. At least 90 percent of all NFL wide receivers are black. It will take a huge turnover in personnel to make that position look like America.

The same type of changes will also be needed in the defensive back position, where at least 80 percent of the starters are black.

Hey, equity is equity. If we want true equity maybe Alan Dershowitz should sue the NFL demanding more Jewish head coaches and Jerry Spence should sue demanding more Indian head coaches.

For years there was an outcry about the lack of black quarterbacks in the NFL. For years football people use bigoted notions to justify the lack of black players at that position.

Blacks weren’t leaders, they said.

Blacks weren’t mentally quick enough, others whispered.

When James Harris came along to start for the Rams in the early 1970s he was an oddity. Later came Joe Gilliam of the Steelers and even later, Warren Moon of the Houston Oilers. At the beginning of the 2002 season there were eight blacks starting at quarterback in the NFL. Some sports writers love to argue that the new influx of black quarterbacks came because the game changed. Quarterbacks needed to be more agile, better able to run and move around in the pocket. Perhaps that’s part of the truth, but another part of the change has to be attributed to a lessening of bigoted views.

If, however, we want to make the NFL look like America we can’t have eight black starting quarterbacks. That’s 24 percent of all starting quarterbacks, which is too high. All the strides that have been made by blacks at the quarterback position must now be stopped because the position no longer looks like America.

Cochran also says that black head coaches are fired too quickly, sometimes in spite of success.

Former Raider Head Coach Art Shell was fired after two straight winning seasons and Tony Dungy was let go by Tampa Bay after turning that franchise into a winner.
You’d need a tablet the size of a phonebook and calculator to tabulate all the head coaches who have been fired after winning seasons.

It’s not unusual.

Welcome to the NFL.

Owners change head coaches like most of us change our socks. Steve Mariucci has put the 49ers into the playoff five of the last six years and has a record of 59-42. Yet his job is in jeopardy and sources close to the team say that if Mariucci isn’t fired, he’ll be asked to take a pay cut and work next season as a lame duck.
Owner stupidity where coaches, black or white, are concerned is a product of impatient competitiveness, not bigotry.

There will be more black head coaches in the NFL. Progress has been slow, but there is progress. Before long, blacks will make up a fair percentage of NFL head coaches. It’s a number that, at times, will rise above 14 percent and, at times, drop below 14 percent, and you can’t sue every time the percentages don’t agree with your sensitivities.

It will come just as the integration of blacks into the NFL turned into dominance.

It will come as surly as black quarterbacks came to prominence. Lawsuits are nothing more than bullying tactics by those steeped in their own self-interests.
Johnnie Cochran is a racial bean counter and nothing more.

Email Patrick Bryson