05 February 2021

An Unasked and Unanswered Question

It's Super Bowl week. And, as usual, both reporters and others are wringing their hands over the diversity problem in the coaching ranks. Michael Rosenberg for Sports Illustrated is just one, representative, example. The fundamental problem is that they're ignoring an even bigger barrier: Ownership and control of franchises is even less diverse.

Franchise Control  
Arizona Cardinals Estate of Bill Bidwell White Male (estate)
Atlanta Falcons Arthur Blank White Male
Baltimore Ravens Steve Bisciotti White Male
Buffalo Bills Kim and Terry Pegula Korean-American Female and White Male
Carolina Panthers David Tepper White Male
Chicago Bears Virginia Halas McCaskey White Female (estate of White Male)
Cincinnati Bengals Mike Brown White Male
Cleveland Browns Jimmy and Dee Haslam White Male and Female
Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones White Male
Denver Broncos Joe Ellis, trustee White Male (estate of White Male)
Detroit Lions Sheila Ford Hamp White Female
Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers, Inc. Shareholder Entity (President: White Male)
Houston Texans Janice McNair and family White Family (estate of White Male)
Indianapolis Colts Jim Irsay White Male
Jacksonville Jaguars Shahid Khan Pakistani-American Male
Kansas City Chiefs Clark Hunt and siblings White Male
Las Vegas Raiders Carol and Mark Davis White Family (estate of White Male)
Los Angeles Chargers Dean Spanos White Male
Los Angeles Rams Stan Kroenke White Male
Miami Dolphins Stephen M. Ross White Male
Minnesota Vikings Zygi Wilf White Male
New England Patriots Robert Kraft White Male
New Orleans Saints Gayle Benson White Female (estate of White Male)
New York Giants John Mara and Steve Tisch White Males
New York Jets Robert Wood Johnson IV and Christopher Wold Johnson White Males
Philadelphia Eagles Jeffrey Lurie White Male
Pittsburgh Steelers Art Rooney II and family White Male and Family
San Francisco 49ers Denise DeBartolo York and Jed York White Family
Seattle Seahawks Jody Allen, trustee White Female (estate of White Male)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bryan Glazer and siblings White Family
Tennessee Titans Amy Adams Strunk White Female (estate of White Male)
Washington Football Team Dan Snyder White Male

That is, less than 5% of the decisionmakers who hire and/or must approve hiring of a head coach (or general manager) are something other than "white"… and none of them are Black. We should therefore not be all that surprised that it's taken this long. After all, it took a lifetime after the US military was officially desegregated by executive order to have a Black man be the top uniformed member of any branch of the military. (It only took a little over half that long for a Black man to become the top uniformed military officer. How does that feel, Mr Goodell?)

<SARCASM> My countering modest proposal is a modified Rooney Rule for the next time any NFL franchise changes hands for any reason — including inheritance: There must be a minority-owned/controlled ownership group presented to the current group of NFL owners as at least one candidate for approval of the change in franchise ownership. If this means a "forced buy-out" of a descendant of a white owner, so be it. After all, there's no tendency whatsoever for owners to choose custodians of their affairs who look like and share substantial background with those owners. And if this means that some of the children of Ireland will no longer be a burden to their parents or country, well, that's all to the good, right?</SARCASM>

Application of this extremely modest proposal to other elements of the entertainment industry — especially, but not limited to, print publishing — is left as an exercise for the student.