“Integrating the NFL was the low point of my life, If I have to integrate heaven, I don’t want to go.” -Woody Strode
A friend wrote this on Facebook! I liked the quote so much that I bought Woody Strode’s book, “Goal Dust,” written with Sam Young.
Historically, the NFL has had a lack of diversity in leadership positions. Joining the Shelby Athletic club in 1902, Charles Follis is believed to be the first African American professional football player. Many followed, including the renowned Paul Robeson. However, in 1933, the NFL banned black players from the league. Woody Strode and Kenny Washington re-integrated the NFL in 1946 when they joined the LA Rams. Currently there are 6 African American head coaches and 5 African American general managers in the NFL.
Despite an increase in the number of black coaches, GMs and a quarterbacks, the NFL has not come far enough. After Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn was relieved of his play calling duties earlier this season, the offensive play calling duties were given to Sherm Lewis. NFL hall of famer Steve Largent made some disparaging comments about Mr. Lewis and his credentials. Steve Largent’s comments might not represent the consensus of white America, however, the fact that an under-performing white man could be replaced by a black man with stellar credentials shouldn’t be considered as unjust. What is perplexing is that a white man like Jim Zorn who lacked quality coaching credentials could be given a head coaching job, when a black man with 3 Superbowl rings as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator, could seldom if ever get an interview for a head coaching position, let alone get hired.
Sherm Lewis is a renowned and highly respected person in the history of the NFL, not just because of his 3 Super Bowl rings, but because he is a pioneer as a black coach in a league that has rarely given anyone other than white men the opportunity to preside in leadership positions as a coach, in the front office, or at quarterback.
Jeff Fisher, coach of the Tennessee Titans was so reluctant to play his black quarterback Vince Young, that the team owner had to force the move after Tennessee failed to win any of its first 6 games. After Young entered the lineup, the team won its next 6 games.
Jeff Fisher, you’re welcome. A black man may have saved your job. You should be fired anyway, as should Jim Zorn at Washington. Sherm Lewis will be a great head coach because he is a winner. There are too many pathetic white coaches and quarterbacks. If teams want to win, diversity must be embraced.