12th August 09:55
Commentary: Millen fine raises questions
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Contrary to what people say or
want us to believe, we have not come a long way on the race
In fact, my contention is if we have to have a rule that
says NFL teams must interview minorities for head coaching jobs,
we're regressing. If we've come so far, why do we need rules like
I heard a comment the other day that we're trying to
legislate matters of the heart. At its core, that says it all.
If we've come so far, then why is the heart lacking?
Which brings me to the rhetoric I've heard in the past few
days about the controversy surrounding the Detroit Lions.
Detroit President Matt Millen was fined $200,000 because he
hired Steve Mariucci as head coach without interviewing any black
candidates. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a letter to
Millen that he was part of a panel that endorsed a recommendation by
the NFL's Diversity Committee, and that Millen had reneged on his
Problem is the people who hired Millen are just as guilty if
not more so.
Team owner William Clay Ford and vice chairman William Clay
Ford Jr. should have been responsible for this mess. Because they
weren't, Millen has been left to be the scapegoat.
Sure, Millen wanted to hire Mariucci, and we hear that the
Lions tried to speak to potential black candidates but were blown
off, mainly because there was talk that Mariucci was going to get
the job, no matter what.
If we've come so far, then what did the heart ask in this
instance? One thing is certain. It did not ask why were no
minorities interviewed for this post. Millen knew whom he wanted,
and I have no problem with that. Also, it would be ludicrous to
think that any owner can be told who to hire or would abide by a
rule that sets a guideline for such.
I have no idea why, in the same cir***stance, the San
Francisco 49ers were not fined after they hired retread Dennis
Erickson, whose name never was mentioned as that team searched for a
replacement for the man it fired, ironically Mariucci.
The NFL has been notoriously slow in hiring blacks for any
positions of authority. Matter of fact, I learned in a Washington
Post article Monday that Larry Lee, a Lions' front office executive
who was on a fast track, now is the bass player for a band called
"Back in the Day."
What a waste! And the Lions hired Millen without
interviewing Lee, who was still a Lions employee at the time.
When I hear about situations like this, I have a leg to
stand on, for those who give a hoot. And when it comes to sports
teams and the people they have in positions of authority and hiring
and firing personnel, this is old hat. And people wonder why the
"heart" has to be legislated.
Why, since we've made such strides, is this rule necessary?
When you can answer that question, from the heart as it were, you'll
know the answer.