September 13, 1997 in Sports

Nfl Too Stuck On Lily-White

Norman Chad Syndicated Columnist
 

In an NFL off-season of coaching change, they rounded up the usual suspects: White guys. Some winners, some losers; some proven, some unproven but every one of them very Caucasian. Eleven teams started this season with new head coaches; all of them decided that white is right.

At The White Guys R Us Coaching Club, once you get in, you’re a lifer. You don’t even have to carry a membership card, they’ll know you when they see you.

Any given week, you half-expect to see Lou Saban back on the sideline.

The EPA should give the NFL a special commendation for its recycling program.

Granted, five of the “new” coaches have a Super Bowl pedigree: Mike Ditka (Saints), Bill Parcells (Jets), Dan Reeves (Falcons), Bobby Ross (Lions) and Dick Vermeil (Rams). But three lamentable losers also were dredged up: The Bengals took Bruce Coslet (26-39 with the Jets), the Raiders took Joe Bugel (20-44 with the Cardinals) and the Patriots took Pete Carroll (6-10 with the Jets).

Contrast this with Art Shell, the NFL’s first black head coach with the Raiders and currently offensive line coach with the Falcons. From 1989 to 1994, Shell was 56-41. In the three years before his tenure and in the two years since his dismissal, the Raiders failed to make the playoffs; in Shell’s six seasons, they made the playoffs three times.

Yet, if Shell ever gets another chance, it will be in a Strat-o-Matic league.

Three NFL coaching openings this season were filled by first-timers: Steve Mariucci - the beach-boy wonder who coaxed California to a 6-6 record in his single season as a college head coach is with the 49ers; Kevin Gilbride and Jim Fassel, both offensive coordinators last season, landed with the Chargers and Giants, respectively.

Contrast this with Sherman Lewis, offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Packers. In recent years, coordinators for title teams usually move on to head coaching positions. However, Lewis was not interviewed FOR A SINGLE OPENING in the off-season.

Maybe he wasn’t home to answer the phone. Then again, maybe he was black.

When will this end? Believe you me, the only difference between white people and black people is that white people can get a cab in New York.

Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, teams have used 218 head coaches just four of them black. Three are coaching right now, and quite well: the Vikings’ Dennis Green (47-37); the Eagles’ Ray Rhodes (22-15); and the Buccaneers’ Tony Dungy (8-5 since losing his first five games).

Those are the numbers, in black and white. Now, where exactly is the gray area here?

As always, the following point-spread picks should not be used as the basis for any actual cash wager:

Buccaneers at Vikings (-5): My friends, Trent “T.D.” Dilfer has thrown 50 passes this season without an interception. My friends, Tampa Bay playoff-hungry and playoff-ready is unbeaten. My friends, the only thing The Man loves more than riding bareback on a crisp autumn afternoon is riding a recklessly peer less prognostication all the way to the postseason. Pick: Buccaneers.

Eagles at Cowboys (-8-1/2): Eagles QB Ty Detmer’s specialty appears to be the 5-yard swing pass. Unfortunately, he usually throws it 8 or 9 yards… . Following Deion Sanders’ lead, Cowboys G Nate Newton now takes batting practice before all games. Pick: Eagles.

Raiders (-3) at Falcons: Raiders offense, designed by Al Davis in the early ‘60s, is football equivalent of pre-Industrial Revolution farming methods… . Welcome home, Jeff George! Just follow the string of losses to your locker. Pick: Falcons.

Dolphins at Packers (-12): Hidden cameras for “20/20” uncovered a pebble in Packers K Ryan Longwell’s kicking shoe just prior to missed 28-yard field-goal attempt Sunday. Pick: Packers.

Cardinals at Redskins (-7-1/2): Brand-new Jack Kent Cooke Stadium features a holding facility to detain unruly fans. I think it’s called TGIFridays. Pick: Cardinals.

Jets at Patriots (-9-1/2): To create festive atmosphere for return of Bill Parcells, Foxboro Stadium officials will allow first 50,000 fans to bring their own whiskey. Pick: Patriots.

Ravens at Giants (-2-1/2): Why do I keep betting against the Giants? Like bank robber Willie Sutton once said about banks, “It’s where the money is.” Pick: Ravens.

Bills at Chiefs (-5): Getting a jump on the 21st century, Chiefs have installed a HAL 9000 computer in offensive huddle. Pick: Bills. Saints at 49ers (-8): I don’t want to say the 49ers are staring at 6-10, but I just saw Steve Mariucci sharing an espresso with Sam Wyche. Pick: Saints.

Lions at Bears (-3): Lions RB Barry Sanders needs a fullback like America needs Yasmine Bleeth doing comedy. Pick: Bears.

Seahawks at Colts (-3): Who’s trying to find that hole in the MIR space station, Dennis Erickson? Pick: Colts.

Rams at Broncos (-13): Rams QB Tony Banks is to fumbling as Albert Einstein is to relativity. Pick: Rams.

Panthers at Chargers (-1): Chargers couldn’t find the end zone with a Himilayan Sherpa. Pick: Panthers.

Last week: 8-7.

Season record: 16-14.


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