Quotas Undermine NFL's Colorblind Tradition

In the frenzy over Rush Limbaugh’s comments on ESPN, it’s easy to overlook one very significant thing. Namely, that such an incident was brewing for some time. It just took a lightning-rod like Limbaugh to ignite it. Indeed, the episode was merely a symptom of an underlying cause.

To put things in perspective: Not long ago, before the plague of political correctness engulfed our society, professional sports (unlike collegiate sports, which has been ravaged by the egregious interpretation of Title IX) stood out as perhaps a final bastion of sanity.

For all its well-documented faults, big-league sports epitomized a wonderful American ideal: that anyone-regardless of race, creed, wealth, upbringing, or zodiac sign-can make it to the top. Just be among the best performers. Period. End of story.

Unfortunately, in perhaps a dress rehearsal for the Limbaugh affair, this ideal has come under assault.

The tipping point occurred when the Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 for violating the league’s new policy of requiring at least one minority candidate to be interviewed for any head coaching opening-even when a high-profile individual is already being sought. Almost everyone knows that in such a circumstance, minority “candidates” would likely be nothing more than pawns in a ridiculous charade of putting race ahead of merit.

Unfortunately (as is disturbingly the case in our bureaucratic and litigious society), the views of sensible people don’t count, if a few administrators, judges, or high-powered attorneys disagree.

The Lions (clearly intent on hiring Steve Mariucci) tried to comply, inviting five minorities for interviews, who-to their immense credit-wanted nothing to do with such a farce.

Lions president Matt Millen then did what any reasonable person would do-he hired Mariucci, who may well lead the Lions back to respectability.

Preferential Hiring Practices

Unfortunately, the NFL (nearly pulling a muscle performing the mental contortions necessary to arrive at such a decision) called an ‘unnecessary common sense’ penalty.

The league self-righteously lectured the Lions that, “while certain of the difficulties that you encountered in seeking to schedule minority candidates were beyond your control, you did not take sufficient steps to satisfy the commitment that you had made.”

To add to the absurdity (if that’s possible), teams were informed that future such “infractions” could bring a fine of $500,000 or more, while attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnny Cochran demanded that teams even lose first-round draft choices!

The obvious question was: why were the steps taken by the Lions considered insufficient?

Don’t expect an answer from the NFL.

In response to queries on the subject, the league’s Vice President of Public Relations (the term ‘public relations’ is here applied loosely), Greg Aiello pointedly refused to make any comment, simply referring again and again to the league’s nearly year-old press release that raises more questions than it answers.

So (especially in light of the latest fracas involving Rush Limbaugh) here’s another question the NFL ought to consider-even if it won’t share its deliberations with the public: Is it about to be destroyed by racial politics?

It certainly appears that league officials know very well that they have adopted an irrational policy regarding race.

But one should perhaps not be too hard on them.

After all, the NFL has been under intense legal and political pressure from the pseudo civil-rights crowd that insists on dividing people based on race, rather than recognizing the great progress that has been made over the past 40 years in race relations.

Consider that in Major League baseball in the late 1960s, among the primary reasons for the American League’s decline was its dearth of black players.

In response, formerly recalcitrant teams began signing black players in droves, and within 10 years, the American League was again competitive with-or even superior to-the National League.

In the mid-seventies NFL, when the Pittsburgh Steelers inserted a black quarterback named Joe Gilliam, many foolishly believed that a black man was somehow incapable of playing that position. Now, nearly 30 years later, there have been numerous black quarterbacks who do not need media hype to be considered successful. (This, incidentally, would have been an intelligent response for those who disagreed with Limbaugh, instead of trying to suppress his viewpoint.)

The same process is occurring with black coaches, of whom there have already been several successful ones. Struggling NFL teams are simply not going to bypass promising black coaches who could help them win, just because of their race. And if any teams are that dumb, they’ll be the losers when other teams snap up the talent that the intransigent ones could have had. Before long, all will emerge from the Dark Ages, just as has always happened before.

Furthermore, the NFL is doing much to encourage black advancement.

For example, it has an extensive program (the summer Minority Coaching Fellowship) that provides the opportunity for legions of prospective black coaches-81 this year alone-to gain invaluable experience that will undoubtedly lead to coaching positions for many of them. Unfortunately, such efforts seem not to register with the hyper-activists.

Of course, the problem with this kind of program is the ‘whites need not apply’ mentality that still discriminates by skin color.

Rejecting Qualified Candidates

One such victim of this misguided approach is Rick Denstorff, a 13-year college coaching veteran who has served as a graduate assistant, defensive line coach, and offensive coordinator at several different schools.

Having been repeatedly told that he could not be considered for subsequent college openings because the school in question had to hire a minority, he sought to get into an NFL camp as a volunteer coach, only to again hear the ‘no whites allowed’ refrain.

“The frustrating thing is when you see guys who have gotten positions right away over others who have better credentials, just because of race,” Denstorff says. “And that goes both ways.”

Ironically, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue seems to agree, stating that “the principle of fair employment centers on the idea that employers should not hire less qualified or unqualified people while passing over members of minority groups who are more qualified.”

Precisely-except that discrimination against any more qualified candidate is wrong, not just against minorities. But the commissioner didn’t acknowledge that race extremists are not satisfied with mere equal opportunity. They want “equality of result,” and will stop at nothing to get it, even if that means repudiating colorblind social policies.

Therefore, one can only imagine what will happen if the current policy does not result in more black coaches, and soon.

The obvious solution is to simply hire the best candidate available, regardless of race. But that novel concept seems too radical these days-in fact, any commentator who had the audacity to say that would probably have to resign under pressure, just like Rush Limbaugh!

Still, the NFL must realize that few will want to watch its games if the league is perceived as valuing political correctness over winning talent. Though understandably trying to protect itself from legal assault, at some point it will have to make a stand.

Maybe that will happen when the silent majority that opposes this nonsense finally revolts now that the race hustlers are messing with their football games!