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Stephen A. Smith has made his career at ESPN by delivering hot takes. On Monday, he busted out his flame thrower and dropped an absolute scorcher of an opinion about the Houston Texans and black NFL coaches.
“The Houston Texans organization, I’m going to say something loud and clear over the national airwaves and I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks,” The First Take host said. “African Americans need not apply. This is not an organization that has been fair to African Americans.
“And I have [Lovie Smith and David Culley] as an example. You can use Romeo Crennel and the kind of situation they put him in the past. I don’t like this organization.”
Stephen A. Smith, Michael Irvin and Dan Orlovsly discussed the Texans for about 11 minutes. Here’s part of what Stephen A. Smith said. pic.twitter.com/OZUJT0xb97— Matt Young (@Chron_MattYoung) January 9, 2023
Stephen A. Smith’s take is certainly … a take
OK, a lot to unpack here. First, he became the second ESPN host to publicly accuse the Houston Texans of racism on Monday. Earlier in the day, Robert Griffin III (RG3) brought skin color into the discussion.
He wouldn’t be the last, though. Later in the day, David Dennis, Jr. (who I am admittedly unfamiliar with) took some time on Around The Horn to play the race card.
Secondly, the assertion is that the Texans are unfair to black head coaches. Yet, he gives three examples of black head coaches in Houston. In fact, their last three head coaches (although Crennel was only the interim head coach after the team fired Bill O’Brien) have all been black.
But hiring black head coaches is not enough. You must hire a black head coach and then retain him, regardless of performance. The Texans fired a white head coach, Bill O’Brien, hired a black coach to replace him on an interim basis, then hired a black head coach full-time. Then, after firing him, hired another black head coach.
Smith bringing up Romeo Crennel is an interesting point. The Texans organization put him in an unfair position, Smith says.
The question is, which position does he deem to be unfair? Was it when they made him one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL? Was it when they promoted him to assistant head coach? How about when they named him interim head coach at 73 years old, making him the oldest head coach in NFL history?
Maybe Smith believes it was unfair that after the team fired O’Brien — who hired Crennel due to their relationship in New England — they kept Crennel as a senior advisor, one of the only holdovers from O’Brien’s staff.
Perhaps it was unfair that Crennel retired last January, on his own accord, at nearly 75 years old. It’s unclear at this point which of those positions Smith deemed to be unfair.
There are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs, and Smith thinks black candidates should limit themselves to 31
Stephen A. Smith has said many times that there aren’t enough black head coaches in the NFL. Well, one way to further limit their opportunities might be advocating to avoid specific franchises. Yet, un-ironically, Smith made that exact claim on Monday.
Previously, Smith called the New York Giants racist, as well.
“As an organization, when it comes to black coaches, I don’t believe a damn word you have to say. There’s nobody more incriminating than the New York Giants,” Smith said last January.
So black candidates should not return the Houston Texans phone calls and should not trust the New York Giants. Now we’re down to 30 possible jobs.
Smith, media demanded Texans hire black head coach in the first place
Here’s what’s really interesting about all this noise around Lovie Smith. Stephen A. Smith, and others, fought for him to get the job last year. They wanted a black head coach to get that job — a bad job, by the way.
If you recall, Houston considered hiring Josh McCown, a former NFL quarterback and current high school head coach. That, of course, was deemed racist. How could Houston consider a white man with no NFL experience over black coaches with experience?
Well, perhaps the Texans realized that their next hire was unlikely to be the long-term answer, no matter what they did.
Lovie Smith was not in high demand around the league for his services to be a head coach. He’s coached 12 seasons in the NFL and has three playoff victories. He went to Illinois and coached 4+ seasons while compiling a 17-39 overall record and a 10-33 Big Ten record.
The only head coaching job he had a chance to get was the one he got — a bad job that didn’t have a ton of quality candidates. The organization is a mess, the roster is nearly devoid of talent, plus at the time the Deshaun Watson saga was hanging overhead.
They have no quarterback of the future. The team was ultimately bullied into hiring Lovie Smith because of the Brian Flores lawsuit.
John McClain, of the Houston Chronicle, reported at the time:
“The Texans knew they were going to get ridiculed for hiring McCown with no college or NFL coaching experience. Hiring him at the expense of a more experienced minority became a deal-breaker, so they reached out to Smith,” McClain wrote.
Race-based hiring is racist, no matter which direction, and un-American
See, this is the problem with all of this race-based hiring. The Texans didn’t want to hire Smith in the first place, so of course he wasn’t long for the job. They had a plan: hire McCown as a bridge coach who will be cheap while they try to get the team back on track.
Then, once they have a few pieces — like a quarterback they can pick #2 in this year’s draft — they will be able to attract a quality head coach. Instead, they were bullied into Lovie Smith by being called racists and now are racists for firing the guy.
I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating: “Here’s a novel concept: hire the best people. Period. Don’t worry about their skin color. Don’t pay attention to their gender. Stop considering how it looks on a spreadsheet.”
The NFL is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy. The starting safety for the Kansas City Chiefs isn’t there because his dad owns the team. He’s there because he’s one of the best 50 or so at what he does in the entire world.
Yet, when it comes to the coaching ranks, we should forgo meritocracy and focus on skin color.
That’s patently absurd. It’s the exact opposite of what sports is supposed to represent.
And it’s flat-out un-American.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak