- Alex Fleming
This Valentine’s day has passed without an incident or distraction to ruin the mood. For once, all of us could focus on what and who is importance to us; and what needs to be done to better ourselves and our surroundings. If we did a week in review, we would be reminiscing on crime, acquittals, frigid weather. shook Saints fans, and bad decisions. If it wasn’t bad enough that a team with the second-lowest winning percentage defied the odds and won a Super Bowl, a short-lived celebration was rudely interrupted by a unquestionably questionable hire. The results of the hire raised eyebrows, and tempered expectations. More sad than shocking, is that the NFL season is over; but a new head coach who’s never coached an NFL game, has reinforced the plantation mentality, the league vaguely attempts to hide.
Chris Doyle is a racist. Some will immediately speak- “Innocent until proven guilty.” Some would even defend him by saying we have no right to judge, unless we judge ourselves. His tenure with Iowa from 1999 to 2020 has multiple highlights. For this instance, his success rate in achieving maximum output shouldn’t be debated; he does / did possess a track record of producing top-caliber players. Don’t believe me? Ask Tom Brady how he feels about Tristan Wirfs. If, for some odd reason that’s not convincing enough, reach out to the Bills Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier on the potential of A.J. Epenesa. Which raises a conscious question: If one was great at their job, what would that individual be able to get away with? Why can’t a racist hold a position is which 76% of its players in the league, sustain a melanin he or she deems inferior? Let’s be honest; how many allegations would disqualify him? Would one be enough: of course not. Could five get the job done: hogwash. Should non-NFL players have a voice in matters of insensitivity and racial provocation? But then again why would their voice matter: the primary goal of the NFL is to provide entertainment and produce revenue; players feelings be damned. Maybe, if Manny Rugamba would’ve ‘shut up and played ball’, he could have been an NFL player feeling suppressed with his millions.
Emmanuel Rugamba “I was lifting in the weight room and one of the lifts we had to do was open and close your hands in a bowl of rice, while walking to the bowl of rice one of my blacks and close friends just left the rice station and was at the bench rack. After benching there was some rice left back on the bar. Coach Doyle then says “wtf is this sh*t clean it up”. The player walks over to clean it up and walks away from Doyle. Doyle then says, “why you walking wit all that swagger I’ll put you back on the streets.” The kid comes from a happy home with both parents.”
This is a portion from a tweet on June 5th 2020. @BooRadd was a former player, just like James Daniels and Anthony Gair, and more than 40 other players, that have stated issues with the Iowa program, with an emphasis on “Mr.” Doyle. But that’s what’s most damning: Kirk Ferentz can at least ‘claim’, that he was unaware of the constant bullying of minority players during his tenure at Iowa. Urban Meyer can’t. The fact that Meyer chose Doyle as a candidate to coach in a new position in his NFL debut should tell us everything we already knew; the good ole’ boy network is present and alive in today’s NFL. Why would Meyer assume to think that this would go unchallenged by the community and people who represent the players? This bold move embodies the meaning of privilege.
$20 million dollar lawsuits won’t stop a successful college coach from attempting to make a splash in his first NFL year. But Jacksonville didn’t ask for this dark water. Without coaching 1 NFL down, Urban Meyer has already provided a dark cloud over Duval and his newly acquired players. During Tom Coughlin‘s and Doug Marrone‘s coaching era’s, there were instances of players not being on the same page with the coaching staff. Without needing to mention the Fritz Pollard Association, one could assume that the athletes on the Jaguars roster were on the same page in this instance. Hate and division have no place in a football locker room. Hate and division shouldn’t have a home in our society; yet it does. Why would Meyer invite the potential for ignorance into TIAA Bank unless he felt comfortable with not being held accountable? Mayb e 40 is a lucky number for Meyer; of the 102 players that Meyer coached at Florida during their Championship runs, more than 40 were or had been arrested. His actions enforce a persona that Meyer has an anonymity to control all aspects of Shad Kahn’s team, as long as they’re winning.
Maybe there’s too much backlash coming from the Doyle 24- hour hire. So much so, we forget to mention Zach Smith in Meyer’s Ohio State system. If racial equality isn’t important to the NFL, maybe domestic violence might strike a chord with those who haven’t boycotted the NFL just yet. How many times can a coach say that they were unaware, or looked past minor offenses? When do those we give positions of power to, be held accountable for their actions, or inactions. If all of the coach’s wives knew of Zach Smith‘s abusive behavior, how could Meyer not have known?
But this is all just hashed up ancient history. It’s a new day in Duval, and “Sunshine” is on the horizon. Urban Meyer wasn’t hired to be a player’s coach, he was hired to turn the woes of this franchise around. But in the retrospect of politics being intertwined with our sports, what is the price we pay for winning? Do the few have to suffer for the franchise to prosper? That tactic wasn’t popular in the 60’s or 70’s, and it shouldn’t be condoned in 2021. Not every Director of Sports Performance can be a Jake Winters; yet we will see if the community will continually need to heal from Meyer’s bad decision making. It’s quite telling of our days and times, to examine who gets multiple chances to get it wrong, and who doesn’t get 1 shot to make it right. Let’s hope that another one of Urban Meyer’s coaching decisions doesn’t get sacked, in Jacksonville.
Feature photo credit: Big Cat Country