At the beginning of 2021, a black coach was fired. However, instead of hiring the hottest offensive coordinator in the league, who happened to be black, the team chose to hire a white coach. After two and a half seasons, this white coach was fired because he performed worse than the black coach before him. This is the story of the Los Angeles Chargers and also reflects the plight of black coaches in the NFL.
The recent firing of Brandon Staley in Los Angeles indicates that the Chargers have cleaned house weeks before Black Monday. It also signals the approaching point of the season where the lack of diversity among head coaches in the league will once again be a major topic of discussion, as well as the annual tradition of overlooking overqualified black candidates in favor of weaker white candidates, a trend that the owners and coaches „believe the media will soon begin to cover.
There’s a reason the NFL’s racial discrimination in its hiring practices against Brian Flores is being litigated in court.
There’s also a reason why so many people on social media, on television, and at the water cooler (in person and from afar) will be upset about discussions of race, feeling that anyone who raises the issue is a „race-baiter.“
This group will argue that the best person for the job should be hired regardless of skin color. However, this group refuses to acknowledge that this is not how it works. Because if it were, they would see the problem in a predominantly black league having only two permanent head coaches who identify as Black – which is one more than in 1921.
Ironically, Staley was fired during the NFL’s „Inspire Change“ weeks, part of the calendar in which the league acts like it is addressing social and racial issues while ignoring that it is one of the biggest contributors.
To understand how manipulated the game is, just read the words of the men involved.
“As we all know, it’s a results-driven business, and quite simply, the results of the past two years have fallen short of expectations.” said Chargers owner Dean Spanos in 2021 after firing Anthony Lynn – the franchise’s first and only black head coach. „Moving forward, we will redouble our efforts to build and sustain a championship-caliber program. We have been innovative in many areas of our organization in recent years and we need to transfer that innovation to our entire operation. Our fans need to know that the Los Angeles Chargers are committed to consistent, winning football. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.“
Lynn had a regular season record of 33-31 and a playoff record of 1-1. In his final season, Los Angeles led with a 7-9 record and lost seven games by a difference of one score. He won the last four games of the season.
“However, we are clearly not where we should be, and we need a new vision.” said Spanos when he fired Staley last Friday.
It was a 180-degree turn from what was said when Staley was hired.
Under Staley, Los Angeles was the definition of average (24-24). Their only postseason appearance during his tenure occurred last season when the Chargers squandered a 27-point lead against Jacksonville – the third-largest comeback in playoff history.
When the Chargers were looking to replace Lynn, they brought in six candidates – five of whom were white. Brian Daboll, Jason Garrett, Joe Brady, Matt Eberflus, and Staley were part of this group. Eric Bieniemy was the sole minority candidate, serving as an example of how teams circumvent the Rooney Rule.
Now, we wait to see who the Spanos family will choose as their next head coach. But before we look to the future, we must turn our attention to the past.
The final straw that led to Staley’s firing was the Chargers‘ 63-21 loss to the Raiders on Thursday Night Football, just four days after Las Vegas failed to score a single point in their 0-3 home loss to the Vikings. The interim coach of the Raiders is Antonio Pierce, who is black. Pierce is taking over after the Raiders fired their white head coach in the middle of the season, just like the Chargers.