Brian Flores was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins at the end of the season. He was still a hot commodity and was lined up to interview with several teams who had vacancies. Now, he has filed suit against the NFL for what goes unsaid but gets practiced all the time: The NFL has a bias problem when it comes to their ability to hire non-white head coaches and management.
Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite sports writers, gives a detailed take on the lawsuit and says this about the hiring practices:
There are much, much bigger issues in the Flores lawsuit than this — he basically brings to light what we all know to be true: The NFL’s hiring practices have been and continue to be racist. The problem was so bad that they had to institute a rule just to force teams to INTERVIEW African-American candidates. Then they had to strengthen that rule repeatedly in order to get people to SERIOUSLY interview African-American candidates. Then, they had to be sued by one brave coach willing to throw his own professional future away just so people might take real notice of the oh-so-obvious fact that there’s just one black head coach in the entire league.
A few weeks ago I was in a group talking about the book When Helping Hurts and was directing the discussion around different types of poverty. We too often leave that word with “they need financial security.”
Brian Flores isn’t poor. And this is what makes it hard in our discussion and thinking. We think, “Why in the world is he upset? He has MONEY! He got to coach in the NFL!”
The poverty here is about two things:
First, it is a poverty of systems. It is obvious the NFL’s owners aren’t serious about promoting coaches of color. The system holds certain people in check. It isn’t about the dollars… it’s about the system and poverty exists.
Second, it is a poverty of spirit. We can look down our noses at someone like Flores and think his complaint is just being sour over losing a job. The poverty is in us.
We need our thinking readjusted. I would like to say we need our thinking healed. We equate financial security with total security and move on. If LeBron James has racist graffiti spray painted on his million dollar house… well, shoot, he has a million dollar house (and probably several of them), so why is he complaining?
We need healing. We are in spiritual poverty trying to impose our whiteness onto systems we can afford to let stay in place.
What we need to understand is poverty is more than a dollar amount. Poverty can be found in all of us.