image of an American football
The NFL has a juggling act to do on race, with players who are mostly Black, and owners and coaches who are. . . not. Credit: Johnny Williams / Unsplash

After watching Brian Flores parade before the cameras to talk about his racial-discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, I immediately realized who the Bears should have hired as their coach . . .

Brian Flores!

The man comes off as fearless, strong, cool under pressure, and classy. In short, just about everything any team would want in a coach. Meaning the Bears should have called him the moment they heard the Miami Dolphins had fired him.

Well, give the Bears credit. They interviewed Flores. But they didn’t hire him. 

Well, I’m not here to rant again about the Bears—got bigger fish to fry today. Like the whole National Football League.

I hope I’m wrong with this prediction. But my guess is it will be a long time, if ever, before any team hires Flores for a coaching job.

He’s committed the unforgivable sin of embarrassing the NFL by telling the truth. And that truth is . . . the NFL is racist against its Black coaches. 

And while we pretend we like truth-tellers, in reality they’re usually the first to get punished. So my guess is that the bosses who run the NFL—almost all of them white—will write Flores off as a troublemaker—what they used to call a “militant.”

So, consider this question . . .

Who will get a coaching gig faster: Flores or Jon Gruden, who resigned as coach of the Raiders after the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times revealed he had been swapping racist, homophobic, and misogynistic emails with Bruce Allen, then the president of the football team known at the time as the Washington Redskins?

Speaking of racism.

Among Gruden’s many insulting emails was the one where he said of DeMaurice Smith, the Black man who’s executive director of the players association: “Dumboriss [sic] Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires.”

Pretty foul. But if I had to bet, I’d say Gruden gets a job before Flores. A little teary-eyed apology or two, and Gruden will be back in business.

As for Flores, his lawsuit should be required reading for anyone studying race relations.

It reads less like a traditional lawsuit and more like an impassioned polemic—in this case, against racism.

The suit covers a lot of ground—from the ban on Black players in the 30s and 40s to the exiling of Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem to the murky backroom machinations of recent times that have left so many qualified Black coaches without jobs.

Like I said, it’s a must-read. But you’d better read it fast because the way things are going, MAGA will outlaw any history that makes white people feel bad.

I realize this is a tangent, but indulge me . . .

Republican politicians in Texas, Virginia, and Florida are trying to ban teachers from teaching  history that makes white children feel bad about themselves.

Obviously, they don’t care very much about how Black children feel. Thanks to a recent column by Gene Lyons, I now know this passage about slavery was in a history book taught in the public schools of Virginia:

“Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, uncivilized and unemployed Negroes were given free passage on cruise ships from Africa to America with a stopover in Jamaica. Upon their arrival, after their time spent in the tropics, they were welcomed by white people who were happy to give them a new home. Jobs were provided along with a lifetime of free room and board. Here in America, they learned to speak English, sing hymns, and revel in the glory of God through the Gospel of Christ in place of their heathen savagery.”

We keep messing around electing MAGA types in Illinois, and we might have garbage like that in our public schools someday.

Back to the NFL . . .

They do a juggling act when it comes to race. Roughly 70 percent of the players are Black, but most of the fans are white, including untold millions of the MAGA persuasion.

The NFL’s challenge is to make the white fans feel football is for them too. How do you do that?

Well, start by banning troublemakers like Colin Kaepernick. So much for his right to free expression.

And then you make sure that the guy on the sidelines calling the shots—you know, the boss—is a white man.

Flores says he was only given cursory interviews with New York and Denver. He alleges that those teams sought credit for interviewing him though they had no intention of hiring him.

As for the team that did, he accuses Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross of offering him $100,000 to tank. (Ross denies the allegation.)

Tanking is when a team intentionally loses in order to get a higher draft choice. Don’t get me started on this abomination—especially in basketball, where it never, ever works.

Here’s what is particularly insidious about Flores’s tanking allegations. He says the Dolphins turned on him when he refused to try to lose games. And eventually that bad feeling they had toward him resulted in him getting fired, even though his team had outperformed expectations.

I’m reading that and thinking . . .

Hmm, white owner hires Black man to coach a “bad” team. Encourages him to lose. Then fires him for having “lost” too many games. And hires a white coach when they have a “better” team.

Pretty sleazy.

By the way, I’m happy to report that Lovie Smith—former coach of the Bears—got hired as head coach of the Texans. Just a few days after Flores filed his suit. I’m sure there’s no coincidence.

Congratulations, Lovie. Here’s some advice: if the Texans start talking to you about tanking, give Flores’s lawyer a call.

Eds. Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Bears didn’t interview Flores. 

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