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Whitlock: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is football’s Joe Biden, a political operative using race and racism to empower the matriarchy

Op-ed
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The National Football League is no different from the rest of America. It is suffering from a lack of bold, masculine, ethical leadership. It’s led by longtime political grifters, men whose love of the game’s financial rewards dwarfs their respect for the traditions and customs that made the league a television juggernaut.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is pro football’s “Let’s go, Brandon” inspiration, and his executive vice president, Troy Vincent, is the sloppy seconds the NFL Players Association discarded more than a decade ago.

Goodell and Vincent are paid as handsomely as the game’s top players. Their primary responsibility is to protect the Shield, the once-pristine brand legendary NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle cultivated in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

What Goodell and Vincent have done in the past decade is cover their asses, protect their salaries, and acquiesce to every demand issued by football’s left-wing, anti-masculinity enemies.

Early last week, disgruntled former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the league and three of its individual teams, claiming racial discrimination. His 58-page lawsuit ironically leans heavily on quotes from Vincent that accuse the league of racism. Not to be outdone by his vice president, on Saturday Goodell fired off a memo to ownership chastising his bosses for not hiring enough black coaches.

“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” Goodell wrote. “We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable …

“We understand the concerns expressed by Coach Flores and others this week.”

In his lawsuit, Brian Flores stated the NFL is run much like a slave plantation. The commissioner of the NFL, the man who runs a league and industry that have produced more black male millionaires than any other American industry, basically co-signed Flores’ ridiculous analogy.

Goodell should be fired. Immediately. He’s paid more than $50 million a year to defend the league. He can’t muster the courage to do it because he lacks the backbone and intellectual heft to recognize and articulate what ESPN, Fox Sports, the New York Times, and Big Tech’s social media apps have done to the NFL.

Professional football is not remotely run like an antebellum Southern plantation. It’s never been that. For a time, the league was the closest thing America had to a true meritocracy, an industry that attempted to reward ability and hard work. The NFL was not perfect; no human invention is. But Pete Rozelle’s league was better than anything else on the planet. Racial progress was steady and predictable. Football treated black men far more fairly than the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the rest of corporate media.

Drunk on and spoiled by the success he inherited, Goodell has spent his 16 years as commissioner chasing the affection and approval of the league’s enemies and well-intentioned critics. A year into his tenure, the media convinced Goodell that the league was overrun by lawless players and that his legacy depended on being the face of player conduct. He appointed himself sheriff and/or attorney general of the NFL. It quickly turned into a boondoggle that made the players despise him.

From brain injuries to Deflategate to Bountygate to Colin Kaepernick, corporate media dictates where Goodell focuses his energy. He never leads. He always reacts.

Diversity, inclusion, and equity – D.I.E. – is the latest media-driven assignment handed to Goodell. D.I.E. is the death of the NFL meritocracy. A league that had a single mission of rewarding the ability and hard work of men is now obsessed with meeting race, gender, and sexuality quotas.

It’s a madness that leads to chaos, undermines innovation, and produces mediocrity.

Diversity, inclusion, and equity is why the Houston Texans fired 66-year-old head coach David Culley after one season and appear to be poised to replace him with his 63-year-old associate head coach Lovie Smith. Culley and Smith are both black. Culley was hired a year ago at the end of the 2021 coaching cycle, when the league needed a black hire to satiate the ESPN talking heads who take their talking points from Troy Vincent.

The Texans didn’t really want to hire Culley. That’s why they fired him after one season. The Texans want to hire longtime journeyman quarterback Josh McCown, who is white. It would be an unprecedented move in the NFL. But going all the way back to Bill Russell, it’s somewhat commonplace for NBA players to quickly transition to NBA head coach.

Whatever the case, the Texans’ coaching search has been a clusterf--k. Brian Flores is the other finalist. He’s not an ideal candidate. He’s suing the league, and his lawsuit analogizes the NFL to a slave plantation. If I’m running a business, I don’t give a high-profile job to a candidate who believes I’m a slave owner. I’m weird like that.

In an effort to score D.I.E. points, the Texans leaked that Flores was a finalist. That leak boxed the franchise in. If they hire McCown, ESPN’s horde of race-baiters will say the franchise is racist. That’s why the organization has turned to Lovie Smith. This will be his third NFL head-coaching assignment. He had a successful nine-year run in Chicago, including three playoff appearances and a Super Bowl appearance. He was fired in Tampa after two seasons. Most recently, he failed in a five-year run at the University of Illinois. Last year, he was an assistant for Culley.

The Texans are going to replace Culley with his top assistant? This is how corporations D.I.E.

The Texans are following the orders of the NFL’s alleged “leaders,” Goodell and Vincent. Goodell and Vincent take their leadership cues from the LGBTQ chief diversity officers overseeing corporate America’s human resources departments. The gatekeepers of employment sound the same and fit a profile.

“We will reevaluate and examine all policies, guidelines and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusion, including as they relate to gender,” Goodell said in his statement. “In particular, we recognize the need to understand the lived experiences of diverse members of the NFL family to ensure that everyone has access to opportunity and is treated with respect and dignity.”

The values that made the NFL great revolved around recognizing and rewarding ability and hard work. Pete Rozelle did not talk about “lived experiences” and diversity, inclusion, and equity. In pursuit of D.I.E., the NFL has prioritized creating assistant coaching positions for women, particularly LGBTQ women.

A true meritocracy in sports has a long-standing history of working quite well for black men. Diversity, inclusion, and equity works for women. The enemies of football, the patriarchy, and masculinity have packaged their D.I.E. strategy as justice for black coaches. That’s not the real agenda. Same as Black Lives Matter isn’t about protecting black men. It’s about disrupting the nuclear family and the patriarchy.

Weak men are weak leaders. Their lone concern is protecting their paychecks and their power. Goodell and Vincent are not advocates for the league that employs them. They’re public defenders cutting a series of plea deals with the opponents of strong male leadership.

We should not be surprised. America has an unprecedented leadership crisis that is accentuated by an absence of morals. The NFL is a reflection of our descent into Babylon. A collection of lyrical pornographers – Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar – highlight this season’s Super Bowl halftime show. In the name of diversity, inclusion, and equity, a gaggle of gangsta rappers will wax poetic about bitches, hoes, weed, and killing n---as.

“Black Twitter” and its white allies will celebrate the Jay Z-produced circus as a sign of racial progress. Meanwhile, away from the noise, buffoonery, and claims of plantation-style oppression, Goodell and Vincent will continue to oversee the creation of additional coaching opportunities for women.

Let’s go, Roger!
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