Lovie Smith: NFL is again being criticised about its lack of diversity
When Lovie Smith was hired by the Houston Texans as the team’s new head coach in February 2022, he said the NFL had “a problem” with hiring black coaches and diversity.
“I know there are a number of black head coaches in the National Football League,” Smith told reporters just a year ago.
“There’s Mike Tomlin and I think I am, I don’t know about many others. So there is a problem, and it is clear to us. And once you have a problem, what are you going to do about it?”
Smith Was fired on Monday At the end of his only season at the helm of the Texans, finished with a 3-13-1 record.
Smith is the second black coach in two years Free from your duties By the Texans, who fired David Cooley at the end of the 2021 season.
Smith’s time in charge wasn’t full of wins and high marks — though his standout gift to the organization was a last-minute Hail Mary victory over the Indianapolis Colts that cost them the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Chicago Bears. But his Texans team showed cohesion and competence, qualities often needed by outfits undergoing a rebuild.
Houston general manager Nick Caserio said firing Smith was the best decision for the team at this time.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Lovie Smith for the contributions he has made to our team as a coach and a leader over the past two seasons,” Caserio said in a statement.
“I am constantly evaluating our football operations and believe this is the best decision for us at this time. It is my responsibility to build a comprehensive and competitive program that can sustain success over the long term. We are not there right now, however, with the support of the McNair family and the resources available to us, I am confident in the direction our football program is headed. ”
But the firing of the 64-year-old coach, the Texas organization as a whole, and measures the league has implemented to promote diversity have been heavily criticized by former players and TV pundits.
“The Houston Texans have fired Lovie Smith after 1 year. Using 2 black head coaches to tank and then firing them after 1 year doesn’t sit well with anyone,” former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III Tweeted on SundayWhen the news of Smith’s firing came.
On ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin The decision has been condemned. Smith called the Texas organization “an atrocity.”
“They are an embarrassment. And as far as I’m concerned, if you’re an African American, and you aspire to be a head coach in the National Football League, there are 31 teams that you should be hoping for. You have to hope beyond God that the Houston Texans never call you,” Smith said.
Irwin said black coaches are being used as “scapegoats” by Texans.
“It’s a mess in Houston and they bring these guys in and use them as scapegoats. And that’s what African American coaches have been screaming about for a while and it’s right in our face, He said.
When CNN contacted the Texans for comment, the team highlighted the moment at Monday’s news conference when Caserio was asked why anyone would consider a black coach working for the team, and his response was that individual candidates have to make their choice.
“Ultimately it’s not about race. It’s about finding quality coaches,” the general manager said. “There are a lot of quality coaches. David (Culey) is a quality coach. Lovie (Smith) is a quality coach.
“In the end, every coach has his own beliefs. Every coach has his own philosophy. Every coach has their own comfort level about what we are doing. That’s all I can do, honestly and frankly, which I’ve done since the day I took this job, and I’ll continue to do that and try to find a coach that we feel is the most. makes sense This institution. That’s the easiest way I can answer it, and that’s my commitment.
“That’s what I’m appointed to do, and that’s what I’m in a position to do. At some point, if someone feels that it’s not the right decision for this organization, I have to respect that, and I have to accept that.
CNN has reached out to Lovie Smith for comment.
At the start of the 2022 season, NFL.com reported Smith was one of only six minority head coaches in the NFL, a minority in a league where nearly 70% of the players are black.
Since Art Schell was hired by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1989 as the first black head coach in modern history, there have been 191 people hired as head coaches, but only 24 have been black.
However, the NFL has taken steps to increase diversity in the coaching ranks.
Specifically, in 2003, the NFL introduced the Rooney Rule to reform hiring practices to “increase the number of minorities hired in head coach, general manager, and executive positions.”
But the Rooney Rule has not been an unqualified success.
In 2003, the Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 for not interviewing any minority coaches before hiring Steve Mariucci as their new head coach.
In response to the criticism, the NFL announced it was establishing one Diversity Advisory Committee of outside experts to review its hiring practices last March. Teams will also be required to hire minority coaches as offensive assistants.
Despite rule changes being implemented in recent years to strengthen this, A 2022 trial is alleged that some teams have implemented “sham” interviews to meet the league’s diversity requirements.
Last February, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a federal civil lawsuit against the NFL, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins organizations, alleging racial discrimination.
Flores, who is black, said in his lawsuit that the Giants interviewed him for the vacant head coaching job under strange circumstances.
Two months after filing the initial lawsuit, Flores sued the Texans, alleging that the organization “resigned him as head coach this offseason because of his decision to file this action and speak out publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL.” Refused to be appointed as.”
In response to the lawsuit, the Texans said their “search for our head coach was very thorough and inclusive.”
The NFL called Flores’ allegations unprecedented.
“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equal employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equal opportunity within our organizations,” the league said in response to the lawsuit.
“Diversity is central to everything we do, and there are some issues that our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time on. We will defend these claims, which are without merit.”
But 12 months after firing its last black head coach, Texas has fired another.
“How do you hire two African Americans, leave them for a year and then fire them?” questioned NFL Hall of Famer Irvine.
“You know what a mess Houston is,” Irvin added. “We get the worst jobs and we don’t get a chance to fix the worst jobs, just like that.
“I don’t know any great white coach who would take the (Texans) job unless you gave them something guaranteed. ‘You have to give me a four-year guarantee to turn this place around.’ But African American coaches can’t come with that power because Lowy can’t find another job.
“It was his last chance to get back in the NFL and you have to take what’s on the table to try to change it.”
The Texans are now looking for a new head coach under general manager Caserio. The new hire will be the third coach in Caserio’s role: It is almost unprecedented for a general manager to have the opportunity to hire a third head coach with the same team.
Texas Chairman and CEO Cal McNair said he will take a more active role in the recruiting process. The next head coach will be of the institution Fourth in three years.
According to the NFL, the Texans have already requested to speak with five candidates about filling Smith’s position, a list that includes two black coaches.
After Smith was hired in March 2021, McNair said: “I’ve never seen a more thorough, inclusive and thorough process than what Nick (Caserio) has done with our coaching search.”
In that introductory news conference, Smith spoke candidly about bringing more diversity to the NFL coaching ranks.
“People in positions of authority — head coaches, general managers — you have to be intentional about trying to get more black athletes in some quality control positions throughout your program. If you get it, They can go up, it’s a way to get more.”
Smith added: “It’s not just an interview, if you’re interviewing a black person. It’s about having so many guys to choose from that look like me. And it’s not just about talking. You see my staff, in whom I believe. And let those people show you who they are. Thus it is left to the people to choose how we can enhance it. We all have the opportunity to choose, and that’s how I think we’ll make it.