Feeling Feisty This Morning …

There was a report last week at CBSSports.com that the Carolina Panthers may have been in violation of an NFL rule as the team conducted its hiring search for a new head coach.  Since the Panthers had not announced a new coach, I wondered how they could be violating whatever rule was referenced here.  According to the report, the NFL has a rule that every person on a search committee for hiring a new head coach must have completed “the mandatory inclusive hiring training” prior to serving on the search committee.  Evidently, owner David Tepper’s wife did not complete the training, but she participated in some of the search committee activities.  My first reaction was to yawn…

Here is a statement from Jonathon Beane – – the NFL’s Senior Vice-President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer:

“The inclusive hiring training is a key element of our efforts to foster an equitable hiring process.  Any suggestion that this mandatory requirement was not met by applicable clubs will be addressed and corrected immediately.”

That led to my second reaction which is:

  • Here is more evidence that the NFL favors form over substance about how senior coaching vacancies are filled in the NFL.

Let me look at this logically for a moment.  David Tepper’s wife, Nicole, is the Chief Administrative Officer of Tepper Sports and Entertainment which you may surmise has close ties to the Carolina Panthers.  And by the way, her title is no more or less awesome than Jonathon Beane’s title with the NFL.  And the fact of the matter here is that the NFL officially deems her to be unworthy of helping the Panthers select a coach because she did not take a training course constructed by the NFL.  She is guilty of being prejudiced until she is cleansed of that taint by taking a course constructed by the NFL.

Really?  The league that has been criticized from here to Saturn for its exclusive hiring results creates a mandatory training program that will infuse openness and inclusivity into everyone on every search committee just like that?

If everyone on the planet must take this mandatory training regimen in order to be cleansed, how did the NFL certify the cleanliness of the people who run the damned training regimen?  Who cleansed the cleansers?

I am not here to defend the hiring practices of NFL owners as a group.  At the same time, can we please report on events that lead up to hiring decisions in a bit more objective fashion.  Here is a bit of reality:

  • The NFL has an optics problem with the mix of its head coaches and senior coordinators.  Reporters and columnists have ridden that horse to fill space for about 20 years now.
  • The NFL is also the defendant in a lawsuit charging the league with racial discrimination.
  • Those environmental factors are the reason the NFL has a person designated as its Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.  I would wager a tidy sum there was no such position in existence at the time the NFL and the AFL merged.
  • So, if/when someone perhaps needs to complete the training having been part of the first elements of a coaching search, there is no need to get on a high horse and announce that the situation will be “addressed and corrected immediately.”

I cannot find any reference to the training that is required in terms of the length of the course(s).  However, since the training is mandatory for owners themselves, my guess is that the training is not full-time for six months.  It sounds to me like a one-week feelgood session where everyone holds hands and sings Kumbaya at the end of it all.  And if I am even close to correct, such an event has little chance to change the heart and character of the participant any more than a 5-day anger management class can change the heart and character of someone prone to become a mass shooter.

Enough of that, let me move onto another report that annoys me this morning.  There are several sources of annoyance, but I will select Kevin Blackistone’s column in today’s Washington Post as my example.  The headline for the article in the print edition is:

“Dungy shows the regressive and intolerant worst in sports.”

In case you missed it, Tony Dungy was a featured speaker at the March for Life on the National Mall last week.  He also responded to a Tweet with a reply that many folks find ridiculous and insensitive.  And now, Tony Dungy is labeled as a “bad guy”.  When he was a successful Black head coach in the NFL, he was a pioneer and an example of how and why there needed to be something like a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer in the NFL.  When he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, he was praised to the heavens.

But then he said something many folks in the media disagree with and – horror of horrors – he accepted an invitation to speak to a group that many folks in the media consider to be troglodytes.  How dare he do that?

Kevin Blackistone and others are now telling Tony Dungy what Dungy’s position ought to be regarding issues related to abortion, same-sex marriage and gender identification.  Sorry, but I cannot get on that train.

I have my own position(s) on those three issues, and it is totally improper for me to tell Kevin Blackistone and/or Tony Dungy that their positions are abhorrent and/or vile.  Their positions are just that – – their positions.  Disagreement is fine; personal attack is out of line; and in this case, denigrating Tony Dungy for his position that has not changed over time is a tad hypocritical given the adulation he received in the past.

Finally, let me close today with a line that Don Rickles often used in the middle of his act:

“Is there anyone here I haven’t offended?  I’ll get to you later.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………