If you’re gonna do it, do it right. And, if the XFL and the USFL are on the verge of a merger, then the new league must continue the XFL’s trend of hiring and employing Black coaches.
According to Axios, the two leagues could be structured as equals and hope to come together before the 2024 seasons. The report goes on to say that, “Fox executives have previously said the USFL has been profitable and had planned to invest more into spring football, while the XFL lost $60 million for its first season under (Dwayne) Johnson.”
But no matter how things shake out, the “new league” must prioritize Black coaches — which was a strength of the XFL, not the USFL — which mirrored the decades-long disenfranchisement of Black coaches that occurs in the NFL.
In its first season back (2023), the XFL put the NFL to shame by returning with eight teams led by four Black head coaches. The list included Hines Ward, Terrell Buckley, Reggie Barlow, and Rod Woodson. They were joined by their white counterparts in Wade Phillips, Bob Stoops, Anthony Becht, and Jim Haslett. In the blink of an eye, the XFL was able to find capable non-white coaches without the need for a “pipeline” — which is what the powers that be in the NFL always claim they need to identify Black candidates.
“You put the Black people in front of them and they’re still not going to give them jobs, which is going to wind up being something else,” Bomani Jones said last year on his old podcast. “But the ‘we need a pipeline’ (argument) implies that somehow that Black people who coach are literally invisible, and that you yourself are not capable of seeing a Black person and recognizing their capabilities. And if that’s the case, say it.”
While the NFL has only two more Black coaches than it did in 1921, the XFL boasted four — with Barlow taking his team to the championship game. Since then, Woodson parted ways with the Vegas Vipers, however, he was replaced by Dr. Anthony Blevins, another Black coach — keeping the league at the 50-percent mark.
Things weren’t as colorful in the USFL, as Kevin Sumlin and Kirby Wilson were the only two Black coaches in the eight-team league when it relaunched. Conveniently enough, Curtis Johnson was brought in to take over the Houston Gamblers from Sumlin, in the same way that Ray Horton took over for Wilson. The spots for Black coaches stayed Black, as the spots for white coaches stayed white. Mike Nolan took over for Jeff Fisher and John DeFilippo replaced Larry Fedora.
Funny how things work out.
As the details for what this new proposed combined spring league are still being sorted, what can’t get lost in the cracks is the history and progress that was made by the XFL. A spring professional football league with 16 teams will more than likely be too much to ask, which means that some cities, players, and coaches will be left out in the cold. But for two leagues who are desperately trying to present fans with something new, it means they’ll have to do something different. Keeping Black coaches employed at a higher rate than the NFL is a great place to start.
Original source here
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