Will Lovie Smith Be NFL “Rooney Rule” Black Token Interview For 2014?

Lovie Smith (ChicagoSports)
Lovie Smith (ChicagoSports)
Lovie Smith was head coach of the Chicago Bears for eight years, posted an 81-62 record, won four championships, went to the NFC Championship Game twice, and the Super Bowl. And Smith did all of this while being one of the NFL’s lowest-paid head coaches. In his final year with the Chicago Bears, 2012, Smith posted a 10-6 record, but failed to make the playoffs only because of the Green Bay Packers. Then, he was fired.

The next year, 2013, Smith wasn’t considered for a head coaching job, while the Bears hired Marc Trestman, thinking he would be a better offensive guy, and the Bears could hire a defensive coordinator to replicate Smith’s success. But where are the Bears now? Posting an 8-7 record – staring at 8-8 and out of the playoffs, and no better than they were with Smith – in fact, if the Packers win, they will be two wins worse.

Meanwhile, here’s Coach Smith, still without an NFL Head Coaching job, and considered by many the best candidate out there. Yet, he’s got to sit and suffer as someone with far lesser credentials than he, Bill O’Brien of Penn State, gets victory-lapped around by the white-biased media types at ESPN as the next head coach of the Houston Texans, even before he’s officially hired.

And even as a prized recruit to Penn State says Bill O’Brien told him he’s not leaving The Nittany Lions.

Will this be another sorry NFL year of well-qualified black head coaches being passed over for less-qualified white coaches because they’re white?

Will Lovie Smith be the NFL “Rooney Rule” black token coach that every NFL owner talks to just to say they met the “Rooney Rule” requirement of interviewing a qualified minority head coaching candidate?

So far, the answer seems to be yes. And it is so as much because the sports media does little to push the NFL to the 21st Century, and seems bent on pushing less qualified white candidates.

What is particularly vexing about this annual process is many of the journalists in print and on ESPN who do this are not the focus of any push-back by the black media. The Root, Grio, BET, and other black media organizations that could raise a stink about this problem sit on the sidelines watching Tyler Perry’s latest movie rather than making moves that could lead to real, meaningful change.

The overall problem rests with the age-old perception that someone white and male can do a management or technical job better just because of the way they look. It’s not that the person’s really the best one for the job, but that they fit an image the decision maker’s comfortable with.

And that decision maker could just as well be someone black as someone white, so powerful is the perception and coupled with the feeling some African Americans hold of not wanting to rock the boat and risk their hard-earned station in life.

In reality, this dynamic is probably the biggest single contributor to economic inefficiency in American society. It’s the real silent killer for a progressive economy, placing the less-qualified and the down-right idiot in positions far above what they’re able to effectively do.

A startup entrepreneur I will not name once told me as we were traveling that the reason there were not a lot of blacks in tech is that “like hires like.” I listened to this guy and thought to myself he’s never seen that played out with black managers, so he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

But that he made the comment is an example of how deep-seated racism is in our culture, even today. “Like hires like” is the new reason given for the racial disparity problems still evident. The very simplicity of the statement sounds like an excuse to forgive stupidity and flout laws calling for a racially diverse workforce.

“Like hires like” is a reason that must be taken out of use in America. It’s doing too much damage to our society and our economy. Indeed, it’s done enough.

“Like hires like” is keeping good coaches like Lovie Smith on the NFL sidelines, and unproven coaches like Bill O’Brien in the head coaching offices of the teams.

Something has to be done to stop “Like hires like”.

Enough is enough.

Stay tuned.

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