Gary Coleman, the NFL wants you

Posted: Jul 30, 2003 12:00 AM

When did America's most popular sport turn fascist? The National Football League wielded its dictatorial powers with glee on July 25, when it fined Detroit Lions president Matt Millen $200,000 for failing to interview a black candidate for the team's vacant head-coaching position. "You did not take sufficient steps to satisfy the commitment that you had made," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue scolded.

The NFL's Committee on Workplace Diversity recommended last December that each team interview at least one "minority" candidate each time it sought to hire a new head coach. This policy ranks among the dumbest ideas of all time, up there with the helicopter ejection seat and communism. It requires not that teams hire the minority candidate but that they merely grant a token interview. Yet, teams are not allowed to dispense with those token interviews and hire the best-qualified candidate.

The diversity policy uses "minority" as a code word for black. If Millen had interviewed Marv Levy (Jewish), the winningest coach in Buffalo Bills history (his teams went 112-70 with four Super Bowl appearances during the period from 1986 to 1997), Millen probably wouldn't have escaped a fine. If Millen had interviewed Tom Flores (Hispanic), great Oakland Raiders coach (his teams won two Super Bowls and went 83-53 from 1979 to 1987), Millen likely wouldn't have evaded criticism. If Millen had interviewed Gary Coleman, Millen would have gotten off scot-free.

For Millen and the Lions, this fine is especially bitter -- the Lions actually tried to interview black candidates. The team asked five black candidates to interview for the job. Each turned the interview down, knowing that former San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci would be hired. So Millen simply hired Mariucci without interviewing a black candidate.

Does this make Millen a racist? The Detroit Lions have 12 blacks in high-ranking team positions, including offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis, senior vice president Martin Mayhew, director of pro personnel Sheldon White, and head athletic trainer Al Bellamy. But that doesn't matter -- Millen didn't interview a black candidate for head coach.

So who formulated this dimwitted "diversity" policy? Not exactly the most diverse of crowds. The Committee on Workplace Diversity is chaired by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney (white). The committee includes four other team owners: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank (white), Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen (white), St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke (white), and Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie (white). A working group of team executives supports the committee; members of the working group are Terry Bradway of the New York Jets (white), Rich McKay of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (white), Bill Polian of the Indianapolis Colts (white), and two black men, Ray Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons and Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens.

Where's Harry Belafonte when you need him? In any other situation, a group founded for the purpose of promoting diversity yet composed completely of whites would be cause for frontal attack by so-called black leaders. The two black men sitting on the diversity committee working group would be questioned. But when the diversity committee is insanely leftist, black leaders seem to forget about race. Rev. Jesse Jackson, that frownin', clownin', shakedownin' black leader, was overjoyed by the NFL's decision to fine Millen. "We can't allow black coaches to be used as pawns to satisfy a rule that must have real teeth," Jackson stated. "A $200,000 fine is a mouthful of teeth and adds significant bite to the NFL's guidelines." 

The whole imbecilic diversity policy came into the forefront because of pressure from black leaders. Both Jesse Jackson and high-class ambulance chaser Johnnie Cochran even threatened to sue the NFL for discrimination based on lack of black head coaches. But where is the underrepresentation of blacks in the coaching ranks? If the percentage of black head coaches is supposed to mirror the percentage of the black population, the NFL is short only one black coach. If the percentage of black head coaches is supposed to mirror the percentage of black players in the NFL, teams will be forced to hire coaches like Ray Rhodes (career record: 37-42-1).

This is bad business. If the NFL insists on this diversity foolishness, it could destroy itself. The quality of coaching will decline. NFL owners will bolt, knowing that their management decisions are subject to the whims of race-focused executives on Park Avenue. American fans will not flock to a league where race matters more than ability. The only race that should matter is the race to the Super Bowl.