Dale Hansen is never shy about wading into controversial waters.
The Dallas sports anchor makes a good part of his living targeting Jerry Jones and the missteps of the Cowboys.
On Wednesday, he looked beyond Dallas, setting his sights on the Arizona Cardinals and what he described as the “covert racism” of NFL ownership on an evening segment for WFAA.
.@dalehansen goes Unplugged: "Kingsbury fits all the criteria to be a head coach in the NFL: He's an offensive genius, he's young — and he's white, and not necessarily in that order." https://t.co/Cv8HleHac5 pic.twitter.com/J4ixZIURM9
— WFAA (@wfaa) January 10, 2019
Hansen on Kingsbury: ‘He’s young, and he’s white’
“Kingsbury fits all the criteria of being a head coach in the NFL,” Hansen said. “He’s an offensive genius. He’s young. And he’s white. And not necessarily in that order.”
Kingsbury, of course, is the new Cardinals head coach, whose hiring has set off a firestorm of debate in NFL media and fan circles. With the biggest non-Super Bowl weekend on the NFL calendar approaching, the plight of a 3-13 team has dominated the conversation.
That’s in large part because of the issues Hansen addresses here. Taken strictly at face value, an NFL team hiring a coach with with no league experience who recently got fired after going 35-40 at Texas Tech is compelling.
Kingsbury hiring insists on topic of race in the NFL
But when considering the omnipresent issues of race in a league that felt compelled to implement the Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview minority coaching candidates just to attempt to level the playing field, the Kingsbury story is that much more intriguing.
“I am the product of white privilege in America, and I’ve never denied that I wasn’t, either,” Hansen continued. “Getting fired at one place and getting another chance isn’t the problem. But young, talented coaches of color not getting the chance. That’s a huge problem.
“The covert racism of the NFL ownership group is so bad, the NFL had to make a rule so that minority coaches could at least get an interview.”
Hansen went on to point out the overwhelmingly mediocre nine-year tenure of the Jason Garrett regime in Dallas compared to the one-and-done chance that Steve Wilks got as a black head coach in Arizona as evidence of “covert racism.”
Black coaches have survived mediocrity
Of course, black head coaches in the league have coasted on mediocrity as well. Marvin Lewis surviving 16 years with the Cincinnati Bengals with a grand total of zero playoff wins is one of the great mysteries of the modern NFL.
Fans a few hours north on I-71 can reasonably argue that Hue Jackson got one chance too many before being fired by the Cleveland Browns.
White privilege dominates NFL ownership
But Hansen’s point still stands. NFL ownership epitomizes a good-ol’-boy network of white privilege.
NFL ownership consists largely of achingly privileged old white men with so much money they decided to buy their own football team. It always has been. It always likely will be.
When the business of these old white men is trading and profiting on the bodies of a largely black work force, issues of race become unavoidable. This country’s history makes that so.
That fact may perturb a segment of the NFL fanbase into frenzies beyond reason. But their rage does not change the truth from being the truth.
And that’s why Kingsbury’s hiring goes beyond that surface-level of shock of “why did a dude who couldn’t cut it at his alma mater get his next chance in the NFL?”
Playing field so clearly not level
Calling out the NFL’s good-ol’-boy network does not at all indicate that racism is in play with every owner or their decisions. The purpose is to maintain awareness that the playing field is not close to being level for minority coaching candidates.
And when you’ve got an ownership group that tells its players to keep quiet on issues of racial injustice in the name of sticking to sports while using the team’s website to endorse the most controversial Supreme Court justice in U.S. history nominated by a president supported by white supremacists, then yeah, it becomes appropriate to start questioning Michael Bidwill’s motivations.
Kingsbury may or may not prove to be a successful NFL head coach. He got a big break, and does not warrant judgment for catching it — just on his performance moving forward now that he has the job. Whether he turns out to the the Sean McVay prototype the Cardinals so clearly hope he is has yet to be seen.
But his hiring raises multiple questions — some more serious than others — that deserve to be addressed.
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