Leader of Men

-Alex Fleming

Photo Credit: NBC Sports

First and foremost I want to say congratulations to Matthew Stafford. By finding a way to get out of Detroit, he has the best chance of breaking the curse that has derailed some of the best talent that has ever come through the NFL pipeline. From Barry Sanders, to Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford needed to get away. If we’re being practical there’s only three locations that would make any type of sense for Matthew Stafford. The first destination would be Atlanta. Matt Ryan needs to go, Julio Jones still has a year or two left of being an elite wide receiver, you already have the weapons, you just need a smarter quarterback with a live arm. Stafford fits the bill. 

Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Why not go up and hang out with the Hoodie? The one thing New England did not have this year was a Cannon, or even a shotgun at the quarterback position. Cam Newton couldn’t throw. Under Bill Belichick’s tutelage, Stafford could bring some respect back to the AFC East Kings. With players returning from Covid, and some decent picks in this year’s draft, Bill Belichick can round this team back into shape, and be a threat in the AFC East. 
Then there’s the best option; the Indianapolis Colts. Matthew Stafford hasn’t had a consistent running game. As a matter of fact, he has always had an issue on his offensive line. What does Indianapolis happen to have a good abundance of? Running backs, running game, and a great offensive line. Under Frank Reich we could watch Matthew Stafford shine. Oh and by the way, that defense looks like it’s Super Bowl caliber. The AFC South is up for grabs. As much as I would love to discuss football talk with you on this Sunday morning, that’s not the intention of this article. Something has been bothering me, and I haven’t been too vocal about it lately, but I have to get this off my chest. 

Photo Credit: NBC News

Seven job openings. One minority hire. In today’s society it’s normal; no one questions it. Although the NFL is dominated by black players, for some reason the coaching positions do not carry that same distinction. There’s a clear and present issue in our society. One could be used as a tool, but never an owner of such tool. In this particular situation, a black man can be a player, but he can’t lead men who look like him in that same field. Fill me on this. You’ll hold someone who’s in a position of power more accountable than someone who’s in a position of authority. Athletes are held to a higher standard in this country than our politicians, and that’s not right. Yet in that same breath, owners and social stigma will hold back that person in a position of power from obtaining a position of authority that gave him the power in the first place. It’s purpose is self-defeating. Why would you hold back someone who could actually elevate the play of the team, and have camaraderie?

Photo Credit: wxyz

Because you don’t want unity and common thinking: It is counterproductive for owners to have a Leader among men. Time has shown that whenever black men have attained positions of power, other people feel threatened. Also, owner’s daughters and granddaughters should not be seen dating people outside of their race. Isn’t this all about money and entertainment? Then you can’t go around dating the help. This is the mentality that some owners have and feel.

Photo Credit: San Diego Tribune

The Rooney rule has shown the true colors of dark stains on the clothes of owners in their NFL closets. After the 2017 season, black coaches were fired at an immense rate. If we were to count Ron Rivera, who is a Hispanic male, there would be a total of three minority head coaches in the NFL currently. If you want to add the recent higher of Robert Saleh, he would make 4. There are 32 NFL teams. 76% of the NFL’s players, are black. Of course the hiring process is a key ingredient to whether or not a coach is a good fit with the team.

Photo Credit: Raheem Morris

Before the Rooney rule, it was very difficult for coaches to even get interviewed if you had dark skin. Since the Rooney rule, if you don’t perform, your stay with the team could actually be quite short. Black coaches have shorter leashes than white coaches. Don’t believe me, look at Raheem Morris. Or better yet Anthony Lynn, formerly of Los Angeles. I’ll get back to him. Or do any of us remember the very short stint of the Arizona Cardinals coach before Kliff Kingsbury took over? 

Photo Credit: NFL

Let’s talk about Mr. Lynn for a second. The Detroit Lions have a dismal playoff record. The Detroit Lions have a bad record for 30 years overall. Jim Caldwell was the coach of the Detroit Lions for a brief span, having a winning record every year that he was there. He provided the Detroit Lions with two playoff appearances. Yes, he went 0-2, but they made the playoffs. He was fired after having a 10-6 season. His replacement, Matt Patricia, was a New England product. His best year, he won six games. The year after that, he only won three. Yet for some odd reason he was allowed at least three years to try to fix the ineptitude of the Detroit Lions. He was fired this year after underperforming. After Bevall filled in, the position was replaced by a tight ends coach from the New Orleans Saints, Dan Campbell.

Photo Credit: Click on Detroit

To say it nicely, his press conference was underperforming and exaggerated. Sounding more like a WWE hype man than an actual coach, he spoke candidly about how biting knees, and standing back up after getting beat down was going to be the mentality of the team. It isn’t new for fresh coaches to get a shot in the NFL.  Whether or not FedEx played a role we’ll never know. What is new, is the amount of black coaches not getting a shot in the NFL. However I do feel that Detroit is on the way to redeeming themselves.

Photo Credit: NFL

By hiring Anthony Lynn as an offensive coordinator, they lock up an interim head coaching spot if need be, and get a couple of extra third round picks due to the Rooney rule. Anthony Lynn deserves to be a head coach again, it’s only a matter of time before Dan Campbell loses his cool or loses his way by his lack of clutch decisions and ignorant decision making. With a ransom of picks after trading Matthew Stafford, Ms. Ford should be able to retool and compete pretty quickly. They need to draft a quarterback badly, and lucky for them there’s a lot available in this year’s draft. I expect Anthony Lynn to break through before Eric Bienhemy; which is an entirely different can of worms.

Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Eric Bienhemy deserves a head coaching job. He doesn’t expect anyone to give him one however. Considering that the last coaching opportunity now lies in Houston, and their squabbling on whether to choose between Jim Caldwell, or a third-string quarterback who happens to know the game quite well. Nothing but respect for Josh McCown; the structure and comprehension is disturbing and disrespectful. If I was Bienhemy I wouldn’t leave Kansas City. Why would you? You have a top-tier quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, you have a potent offense that you can use and manipulate at the ready: and Andy Reid has seven, maybe eight to 10 more years left?

Photo Credit: The Dissolve

Inherit the fortune. That’s the last thing any of these owners really want to happen.  Some men get judged by their past regardless how bright their future might be. While other men get judged on how bright their future is, regardless of what they might have done in the past. If they continue to draft players that will be coached by special team gurus, and tight end coordinators, then there will continue to be restlessness in the NFL. Why so blatant is the question that I can’t seem to figure out.

Photo Credit: LA Times

They don’t want us to be Leader of Men. They want us in positions where we have to rely on them, in and out of the game. We’ve seen what has happened to public figures who stood out amongst the crowd. We’re watching in real time what’s happening to DeShaun Watson in Houston. Everything about that situation is despicable. If he is your franchise quarterback, he should have had some type of input on how the team is performing and progressing. There is no progression. And you wonder why he would rather play for the Jets.

Photo Credit: Red Ring Tones

I love my city, I love my family and friends, and I love everyone who has a heartbeat an a pulse for this game known as football. But why would I stand idly by while  being slapped and disrespected blatantly, and no one is speaking up for me? Wouldn’t you want someone to speak up for you, if you saw or were a victim of injustice? Better yet, if we are truly nothing more to the American culture but overpaid athletes who should just shut up and dribble, or catch footballs, don’t you deserve the best quality of play on the field? Are you not entertained?

Photo Credit: Baseball Hall of Fame

Well you’re being denied that every single time a person of color who is qualified, doesn’t get their proper shot or recognition needed to obtain the position. We all see this. None of us are blind. We can’t make someone hire someone but the process that is currently happening is a facade. It’s a double-edged sword. Hank Aaron had the same issue in the MLB. That was the 50’s to the mid 70’s. It also took Ted Turner taking a big risk. If we don’t grow from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Seeds were already planted. I thought we were better than that.

Cover Photo Credit: The Viking Age