Editor’s note: This article originally ran on chasingjoejohnson.com.
The system is broken, but nobody who can actually do anything about it seems to want to fix it.
If Lovie Smith is Chris Rock then Gregg Williams is a one-legged busboy:
None of you would change places with me. And I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white. There’s a white, one-legged busboy in here right now that won’t change places with my black ass. He’s going, “No, man, l don’t wanna switch. l wanna ride this white thing out. See where it takes me.”
I used to think that was nothing more than a bit, a piece of hyperbole that Rock used to illustrate an opinion. But after seeing what the Titans just did, I’m not so sure it’s hyperbole.
In case the name doesn’t sound familiar, Gregg Williams is one of the central figures in Bountygate, the scandal that wrecked the ‘Aints’ 2012 season. As if it wasn’t bad enough to have an accusation of that magnitude on his rap sheet, Williams tried to curry favor with the NFL by naming names. His actions led to some of his own players being suspended by the NFL. It wasn’t even three months ago that every sports commentator in America was saying Gregg Williams’s coaching career was over. Who would want to hire a mediocre coordinator who – oh yeah, by the way – sells out his players to save his own ass?
The commentators were right: no one wanted to hire a mediocre coordinator-slash-snitch. Someone wanted to hire a mediocre-assistant-head-coach-slash-snitch.
Williams is on his way to Nashville to claim his new position as assistant head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Forget the fact that he’s a snitch whom no player could likely ever again trust. Forget the fact that, technically, he’s currently banned from coaching in the NFL. Nashville came a-callin, and Gregg Williams just backed into a promotion.
Not just a job. Not just a second chance. Not just a role buried somewhere deep down on the coaching staff of some random NFL team.
Meanwhile Lovie Smith is still unemployed, choosing to sit out the 2013-14 season instead slumming it in a coordinator position somewhere.
It’s not like Lovie Smith is a bad coach. It’s not like Lovie Smith has coached bad defenses. It’s not like Lovie Smith didn’t want to coach. You know who was a bad coach though? Gregg Williams. You know who did coach coach bad defenses? Gregg Williams. And let’s not forget the fact that the NFL flat out told the dude
GO AWAY GREGGGGGORY. Yet this is where we find ourselves today: Williams has a job (or at least a job offer) and the only NFL Sunday Smith will be experiencing next season is NFL Sunday Ticket.
Unless you are the person in the Titans organization who hired Williams you can’t know with absolute certainty how much of this particular decision was influenced by race. It sure looks bad though, don’t it? What is it exactly about Lovie Smith – former Coach of the Year, sterling reputation in the league, good winning percentage, devoted family man and Christian – that makes him so much less enticing than Gregg Williams – questionable integrity, questionable coaching ability, questionable ability to garner players’ respect, known practitioner of Santería* – that the Titans fall all over themselves to hire Williams despite the fact that they don’t even know if the NFL will allow him to work for them?
You see why this looks bad right? This absolutely screams “one-legged busboy.” Lovie Smith has done everything asked of him. He led his teams to great success. He continued to work hard despite being so criminally underpaid that even Scottie Pippen felt bad for him. He has ruffled few (if any?) feathers. Meanwhile, Gregg Williams has done just about everything wrong. He violated the sanctity of the locker room, a cardinal sin in team sports. On a more practical level, he ain’t even all that as a coach. It’s not like the ‘Aints defense was humming before he got suspended, and his previous stints in the league weren’t particularly successful either.
So what does Williams possibly have going for him that could lead to his hiring? Other than being a white coach in the good ol’ boy system that is the NFL, I can’t really think of anything. He’s only got that one leg to stand on, but I’ll be damned if he isn’t going to milk that one leg for all it’s worth. The NFL can talk about the Rooney Rule until its blue in the face but you’re not going to convince us of anything when nonsense like this is allowed. It’s almost like any white coach would do. Any of em!
I’ve heard rumblings that some of our players might have trouble trusting you, but we’re not going to worry about that, Coach. I can tell you got what it takes, if you know what I’m saying.
So it says here that the league has banned you from coaching. Is that right? Ehhh… I think we’ll figure it out, Coach. I can tell just by looking at you you’re the right man for the job. We have a way of getting what we want.
Do I have this right, you used to kill hitchhikers in the Arizona desert? That’s okay, we understand these things happen, Coach. Now, tell me more about that time you saw Skynyrd live.
Wow, this is an INCREDIBLE resume. You took WHO to the Super Bowl? Rex Grossman?! Holy cow. Let’s talk a little bit more about your, uhh, background. What’d you say your daddy’s name was? Thurman? Hmmmm. What about his middle name? Jamal?! Ah ha!! I mean– uh, oh shoot. We forgot to tell you, son, the position just filled up. Sorry. Hey, somebody get Chudzinski back in here ASAP, tell him we changed our minds.
It’s disappointing to say the least.
*I might have made one of these things up.