On yesterday, with the announcement of the final vacancies being filled, Stephen A. called out the NFL and its owners for seemingly circumventing the beloved “Rooney Rule” which is basically affirmative action for black head coaches. And, who better to say it that the sportscaster who signed the equivalent of a “super-max” contract at ESPN, just months ago.
In the last decade, Stephen A. Smith has revolutionized televised sports reporting. His outlandish, uninhibited commentary has both endeared him and vilified him with watchers and listeners. His is perhaps the 21st Century holy grail of journalism-the ever running mouth, much more than merely a talking head. Stephen A. is synonymous with “face time” because much more than being sought out for what he has to say, he is always talking regardless of whether or not he has ‘something to say’!
This tirade was vintage Stephen A. It was
good great television! It was like watching Jordan hit that corner jumper in his last All-Star game. Like watching Jerry Rice catch a touchdown in a Seahawks uniform or even watching Grandpa sprint past all the kiddos who swore he’d lost a step! This was good, but it was also problematic!
This is the same brother who invalidated Colin Kaepernick’s viewpoint and dismissed any credibility of his national anthem protest. When the NFL dubiously invited Kap to a workout late last year, Kap and his legal team sniffed out alarming inconsistencies that eroded their confidence in the fairness of the workout. Kap moved the workout and spoke disparagingly about the NFL afterward which led Stephen A. to call out Kap saying that he just doesn’t want to play. This didn’t fair well with many viewers who pointed to Mike Florio‘s (a sports writer and also a lawyer) reports which debunked much of what Smith had to say. On his show “First Take” the following Monday, Smith doubled down on his ridiculous rhetoric.
What Stephen A. must not be aware of is the fact that these are the same owners who won’t sign Kap! How can he so incredulous that there are no more than three black head coaches! Owners and GM’s are not tuned to the sports acumen of black quarterbacks, black head coaches or black interest, it seems. Well, the late Dan Rooney (former Pittsburgh Steelers owner and former chairman of the league’s diversity committee) did and that’s why the NFL adopted this rule league-wide.
The Dallas Cowboys check the “Rooney Rule” box and bring in highly publicized head coaching candidates with each vacancy. This year, it was Marvin Lewis, former coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. It was unclear how Lewis would function as coach, but Mike McCarthy has been the choice for the next phase of Dallas Cowboys football. But why can’t coaches like Marvin Lewis get hired? Why are there currently only three black head coaches in the NFL? To use Stephen A.’s logic in the Colin Kaepernick argument, one would surmise that perhaps the coaches didn’t interview well or that they somehow want to be seen and not employed, thus the acceptance of an interview albeit via enforcement of the Rooney Rule.
The Rooney Rule, subject of Stephen A. bloviation has been reduced to about as much a joke as Kap’s offer of a workout. With this latest rant, Stephen A. has found his way back into the good graces of black viewers who hung him out to dry late last year. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but you have a bigger problem than a clock, if you’re relying on it to tell time for you!
Stephen A. is RIGHT. He’s spot on, what he seems to have missed or miscalculated is the fact that the culture change he is now calling for would have probably benefited Colin Kaepernick, as well.