A phrase that sticks out to me is that of former Houston Texans owner Bob McNair stating, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.” The statement, with disturbing racial undertones, was regarding the players’ protest in support of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem, in response to people of color being mistreated and facing systematic oppression from law enforcement.
Former Texans star wideout Andre Johnson recently tweeted that Deshaun Watson should stand his ground regarding his trade request. Watson has instructed the team he wants out of Houston due to not being happy with management, personnel and the backward direction the team has headed since their 2019 AFC Divisional playoff loss to Kansas City. The Texans traded away arguably the best receiver in football last season, Deandre Hopkins, for a bag of chips – leaving Watson with no viable threat to utilize and another losing season; Wasting years in his prime. This just doesn’t speak to Watson, but the culture in Houston.
We’ve had Brett Favre and Dick Vermiel most recently speak out against Deshaun Watson wanting out of Houston. It’s real concerning to hear these individuals lash out in the way they did, questioning Watson’s character and saying he gets paid too much to have an opinion on his own career! Those comments were not only irresponsible and racially insensitive, but also inaccurate. The remarks about Deshaun’s character couldn’t be further from the truth, he gave his game check to members of the organization who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
It’s funny how when the pockets of these billionaire owners start to get light by losing revenue, ticket sales, and viewership action is taken. But what about coach hirings? The AFC/NFC divisional championships featured, for the first time in NFL history, multiple black coaches leading their respectable positions in Leslie Frazier, Byron Leftwich, Eric Bieniemy & Todd Bowles.
What are the players willing to risk for change? Are the sponsors who tweet Black Lives Matter and shove “shut-up” money for initiatives willing to do more for actual amends? Look at the NBA after calls to action. Even during the bubble, players protested for unarmed blacks being shot by law enforcement and against shootings done by Kyle Rittenhouse who is out on bail and posed with the same proud boy members, who actually helped storm Capitol in Washington. The owners are yet again demonstrating they only care about money and convenience.
Better yet, these owners give praises for the black athlete who represent more than 70 percent of the league, but refuse to include diversity within ownership. How many black head coaches are there in the NFL? How many Black GM’s in the league? The narrative has been for decades to just shut up and play. Entertain me. Don’t speak about social injustices or police brutality, even though we know they exist. Just make our franchises more money and we’ll donate money to an organization of your choice. Are you kidding me?
Year after year the owners demonstrate resistance to give control to a person of color. We hear from our media publications of rumored interviews and names mentioned throughout coaching carousels, just to be left again without a black coach hiring. The Rooney rule was established for instances just like the times we are living in; for equal opportunity. What exactly has the Rooney rule done in recent memory? The definition of insanity is doing the same repetitive cycle and expecting a different outcome. The writing is on the wall. The NFL players association, led by puppet-master himself, DeMaurice Smith, has to do what’s right and set a more forcible approach.