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The NFL Caves In By: Ward Connerly
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 10, 2003

If taxpayer subsidized stadiums, $75 end-zone seats, $10 parking, $6.00 beer, and endless TV commercials weren’t enough to turn you off professional football, I’m curious to know how you’ll feel after the shakedown-artists and diversity-mongers bring racial hiring “initiatives” (read: quotas) to the game.

I’m not talking about a weepy, left wing effort to ensure that more Vietnamese and Jews get to play offensive tackle. Or, even more Hispanics and Native Americans as running backs. Those positions are still assigned to the players with the most, well… you know, talent and drive. “Multiculturalism” doesn’t hold much water on the playing field.

No, the latest efforts of the “diversity” cartel and their hired shakedown emissary, Mr. Johnnie Cochran-he of O.J. Simpson-fame-demand that professional football teams hire more black front-office personnel and head coaches.  And if the teams don’t toe the line, Cochran and company have threatened to sue them and the National Football League (NFL), a fate that cost Coca Cola and Texaco hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement fees.

The threatened lawsuit is Cochran’s stick; his carrot is a proposal to award any NFL team that hires more black coaches extra draft choices, and, in turn, withhold draft picks from teams not willing to play along.

Ready to change channels on the TV to professional hockey yet?  How about Sanford and Son reruns, because this is truly an issue that belongs in the junkyard?

Don’t laugh. Cochran and his fellow-knee breaker, attorney Cyrus Mehri, decided last fall to publicly call on the NFL to hire and fire coaches and team executives by race. This recent complaint is another in a long line of demands for racial proportionality in every facet of American life by “civil rights” groups.

“The NFL is really a metaphor for what’s happening in corporate America,” said Mehri, who has a dozen high-profile corporate scalps on his belt from earlier employment lawsuits.

Rather than tell these real-life Sopranos to get lost, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue fell into step with these two like a chorus girl, and organized a committee to look into the charges that blacks aren’t fairly represented in coaching and executive level jobs.

Why in the world would Tagliabue do that? Does anyone think for a moment that any owner of any of the 32 NFL teams wouldn’t hire a coach because he is black? Doesn’t this strike you as ludicrous?

Just imagine that you own a team valued at nearly a billion dollars. Your sole mission as owner is to produce a winning team. It’s in your financial interest to win.  If your team wins, you get a few hundred million more to play with.  You are willing to pay tens of millions of dollars in salary to any overweight football player, regardless of his race, as long as he can compete. In fact, nearly 75 percent of your players are black.  The community that your team calls its “home” is an urban market with a substantial black population and a City Council or Board of Supervisors that treats “diversity” as a religion.  Yet, for some reason---perhaps your latent racism---you are going to hire lesser-qualified white coaches over better-qualified black coaches?

This is what Cochran and every other race promoter would have you believe. Give me a break!

I guess it is no surprise that Tagliabue caved in and formed an NFL “diversity” committee to look into Cochran’s allegations. Every other corporate CEO from Seattle to Miami has done something similar under threat of being mau-maued by one of a handful of competing race-shakedown Mafiosi.

Too bad Tagliabue didn’t ask the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis what he thought of all of this foolishness:

"I think what happens over the course of time is people make a to-do about race that need not be made a to-do about. Just put your head down to the grindstone, do your job as good as you can, and ultimately I think the rewards will come.”

Lewis is right of course, but that philosophy won’t make the Johnnie Cochrans, Jesse Jacksons, and Al Sharptons any money.

And money is what this kind of extortion is all about.

Ward Connerly is chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute

Ward Connerly is a former Regent of the University of California, Chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, and 2005 recipient of the prestigious Bradley Prize for his defense of the American ideals of freedom and equality.

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