The Couch Slouch

When it comes to coaching hires, race very much an issue

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I have a friend – let's call him "Wes," because his real name is Scott but he does not want me mentioning him – who, every time I ask, "How come there are not more black head coaches in the NFL?" responds, "How come there are not more white running backs in the NFL?"

Wes then usually follows up by saying, "Why does it always have to be about race?"

In regard to the lack of white running backs, the NFL scouting combine does not measure skin color. However, the de facto, stopwatch-less NFL coaching combine seems to measure a bunch of things other than speed, power and agility.

And why is it always about race? Well, for starters, I think much of U.S. history – 87 years of slavery, the Civil War and another century before the Civil Rights Act with Jim Crow in between, mass incarceration, Stacey Dash – answers that question.

As for the sports world, the numbers don't lie: In the NFL, 70 percent of the players are black, but never have more than 25 percent of the head coaches been black. That number is usually much lower, as it is right now – the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, the Los Angeles Chargers' Anthony Lynn and the Miami Dolphins' Brian Flores are the only black coaches among 32 franchises.

In fact, only once in NFL history has a team replaced a black head coach with another black man – in 2009, when the Indianapolis Colts' Tony Dungy retired and Jim Caldwell succeeded him.

After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, many thought a post-racial America – in which prejudice fades as black and white becomes immaterial – had arrived.

Look around: Does this feel like post-racial America to you? I think not.

I have created what I call "the U.S. Postal Service test" to prove this.

Go to your nearest post office – to mail a letter or just for nostalgic purposes – and, while standing in line, take note of your immediate thought every time somebody walks in:

"That's an old guy."

"That's a woman with a baby carriage."

"That's a fat guy."

"Man, that's an ugly shirt."

"That's a black guy."

And there you have it – you identify people by various characteristics, but the defining characteristic of the black person is they are black.

Note: This test might not work if you happen to be black.

(Column Intermission: At the Jan. 2 press conference introducing Ron Rivera as head coach, Washington R*dsk*ns owner Dan Snyder began by saying, "First off, happy Thanksgiving, everybody." In his defense, it is entirely possible that Snyder, who lives under a rock beneath his Potomac mansion currently on the market for $49 million, lost track of the calendar counting his money in the dark.)

To be fair, the lack of black head coaches is not just a product of racism. We tend to hire people we know, people with similar backgrounds. In a league with no black owners and one black general manager, that's a whole lot of white-only business meetings, golf outings and dinner parties.

Which is why the Rooney Rule, an NFL policy requiring every team to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching positions, was adopted in 2003; it was expanded in 2009 to include general manager jobs.

Yet in 2020, there are only three black head coaches, the same number as in 2003.

So the Rooney Rule hasn't delivered results; on the other hand, I've got to say, nepotism does deliver results.

Frankly, most teams will just go through the motions in interviewing a minority candidate en route to hiring whom they want.

It makes the Rooney Rule feel more like public relations than provocative policy.

And even if the Rooney Rule is well intentioned, if you keep bringing in one minority among 10 or 15 serious candidates, you are hardly ever going to hire that minority. But if you bring in three or four or – gasp! – even more minority candidates, occasionally one will dazzle and you'll think, "Where has this guy been hiding?"

Uh, in broad daylight.

Probably in a post office line.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Seeing how much you like computerized statistical analysis, I performed a computerized statistical analysis on your most recent column. It shows that 52.63157895 percent of the bugaboos you cited had nothing to do with sports. Aren't you out of bounds? (Ian Timberlake; Washington, D.C.)

A. Go fly a kite near a half-built stadium on a windless day.

Q. My wife says I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, but I believe ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland stops talking the moment the game ends. Your thoughts? (David Bradley; Austin, Tex.)

A. Socrates: "An unexamined life is not worth living." Booger McFarland: "An unexamined play ain't happening on my watch."

Q. Let's see: a meddlesome boss, a backstabbing culture and a high probability of early termination. Wait, which Cabinet position did Ron Rivera just take over? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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