The NFL has made many missteps over the years. It didn’t seem to matter in times past, and there always was more money and Teflon-like ratings. It was and still is a juggernaut only rivaled by Premier League and World Cup Soccer. But times are changing. The optics on Colin Kaepernick have hurt the brand. Insensitive comments and actions by billionaire owners have also cast a sticky shadow over the marquee.
This led to some changes. The Washington football team will finally get a name change after its chief sponsor put its foot down. More players are speaking their truth of being black men in America. There is talk of diversity and inclusion with actionable goals. Coaches are not exempt, nor should they be.
Jacksonville Jaguars recently announced hiring strength coach Chris Doyle. One day later, Doyle resigned after the outcry. Doyle left his former job of 20 years on the University of Iowa’s staff after many Hawkeye players claimed the coach fostered an environment with racism and bullying.
Damage control from the team followed:
“Chris did not want to be a distraction to what we are building in Jacksonville,” Jaguars Coach Urban Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We are responsible for all aspects of our program and, in retrospect, should have given greater consideration to how his appointment may have affected all involved. We wish him the best as he moves forward in his career.”
Goodell weighs in
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a news conference after the resignation. He had pushed teams to hire and not just look at people of color who are qualified. Teams make their own personnel decisions, but he was critical of how they moved forward for the 2021 season – just two of seven new NFL head coaches are non-white. In the last three years, just 20% of the coaches are non-white, even though 69.4% of the players are non-white.
According to observers, teams are interviewing more coaches of color (which the NFL requires), but they need to take the next step. Whether they like it or not, their off-the-field moves are as scrutinized as their on-field calls—hopefully, there fewer mistakes like trying to hire Doyle.