Fallout from NFL lawsuit continues

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If you are keeping track, the 2022 NFL coaching hires make up of one Black, one multi-racial, and seven Whites, including the new Minnesota Vikings’ head coach.

It is disappointing that the first significant decision made by new Vikings GM Kwasi Adofo-Mensah, a Black man, was to remain status quo and stay White rather than hire a coach that looks like him. Especially considering Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL for its poor racial hiring among other things. 

As expected, no one around here, save this columnist, will make a stink about this business-as-usual move.

This isn’t the first time a Black person in charge was in the position to hire a Black coach and failed miserably in this regard: former Minnesota AD McKinley Boston balked at hiring the school’s first Black head football coach back in the ’90s. 

He told me privately that he tried, but at the time, the only Black coach in college football wasn’t interested in coming to Gopherland—something I wasn’t able to fully verify. He wasn’t convincing enough for my taste.

In fact, only one person in charge took my challenge of hiring a Black coach to heart and followed through—Gopher AD Mark Coyle hired Ben Johnson as men’s basketball coach. Coyle is White—ironically last week the school regents extended his contract.

Adofo-Mensah had at least 11 qualified Black candidates to choose from in hiring the new Vikings coach, according to a list the NFL released last fall. 

Seemingly, he did the Rooney Rule two-step: brought in and interviewed a couple of Blacks, and gave them the bypass move, which typically happens to Black candidates while Whites get the pass to the head coaching opening.

Flores’ suit, among other things, calls out the Rooney Rule ruse and demands changes. If successful, it will increase “the objectivity” of hiring and firing GMs, head coaches, and coordinators; increase the number of Black coordinators; and incentivize hiring and retaining of Black GMs, head coaches, and coordinators.

The NFL, in a statement, responded, “We will defend against these claims, which are without merit. Diversity is core to everything we do.” This is hard to hear and read without laughing out loud.

Although the NBA coaching diversity is light years better than the NFL, the men’s pro basketball league also does its share of bypassing Blacks for head coaching jobs.  

Former Minnesota Timberwolves Associate Head Coach David Vanterpool recently gave a first-person account to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears of what happened to him when his former team fired the head coach and hired another.

Now an assistant in Brooklyn, Vanterpool has 13 years of coaching experience. He was hired as Wolves associate HC under former coach Ryan Saunders in 2019. Normally, the associate head coach is next in line whenever the head coach is fired, especially in the middle of the season, something that occurred to Saunders during the 2021 season. But the Wolves bypassed tradition—as well as Vanterpool—and hired Chris Finch instead.

“I was just in shock. I was numb, upset, and taken aback completely,” recalled Vanterpool when informed that he would not be considered for the Wolves job.

I like Finch and have talked with him on a couple of occasions, and both of us enjoyed each other’s company. This year’s Wolves are looking promising thus far as well. But couldn’t the players have done the same under Vanterpool? Many of them played for him as a member of Saunders’ staff.  

We’ll never know.

“I just want the opportunity and the ability to fail, too,” said Vanterpool of one day getting an NBA head coaching position. “Just like everybody else, I still will get that opportunity,” he predicted.