Doug Williams and Tony Dungy all over again!

Dear Editor,

Just when you thought it was safe to be a Tampa Bay Bucs fan again, the mighty Glazers messed things up again. Once again we have awakened out of our pewter slumber to find yet another beloved black coach fired. Again, the Glazers says it’s business and nothing personal, but somehow it doesn’t feel that way.

In a professional league that is 68 percent black, the NFL has only five coaches that are minorities. After this Super Bowl, there may be only two. When ESPN sports personality Steven A. Smith blasted the Glazers for firing Coach Lovie Smith, the pro Bucs magazine Pewter Report attacked Smith a race baiter.

Maybe it’s just me but it seems like Coach Smith did not get a fair shake. At least when it comes to the way other coaches around the league are treated. Who will next get credit for a team that Lovie built?

The Glazers said the reason Smith was fired over the phone was because he declined to meet them face to face. After all, why would he be eager to meet with them to get fired in the second year of a four-year contract?

Smith won eight games in two years and never mind this year the Bucs won more games than the last three years. He drafted Jamesis Winston even after Coach Dungy thought Marcus Mariota might be a better pick. Winston turned out to be a star and once again the Glazers have handicapped their team with yet another coaching change.

Four coaches in seven years, yet the Glazers say they are not settling for mediocrity. Wasn’t Smith a coach with Dungy? The Tampa Bay Bucs are turning into the Cleveland Browns of the South. The Glazers are actually northern-fried versions of Hugh Culverhouse, a successful businessman who put profits over ethics and unscrupulous perceptions.

The Pewter Report points out that Tampa Bay has hired three black coaches, more than any other NFL franchise. Wow! Aren’t you happy that they hired and fired three black men without giving two of them the normal time to complete their jobs? Look at the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams and other organizations that have losing records and keep their coaches.

The Glazers were the first owners to hire Tony Dungy.  Thy stepped up to the plate, or did they?

Dungy was their fourth choice behind Jimmy Johnson, Steve Spurrier and Bill Purcell. They settled for him when the other guys ask for too much control or would not go along with the Glazers threat to move the team if Tampa did not cough up a new stadium.

When they hired Dungy they got a win, win deal. Tony attracted players here who were reluctant to work for a franchise that treated Doug Williams so poorly.

The Pewter Report called Steven A. Smith a race baiter because he pointed out facts about how the “good ole boy network hires blacks last and seems to fire them faster than they do white coaches. What the magazine did not say was that he has said on many occasions that black coach Marvin Lewis should be fired for not winning any payoff games in Cincinnati.

Smith even agreed that Coach Smith should have left Chicago but he got railroaded in Tampa.

Maybe you think we are wearing black colored glasses and we are too quick to grab the race card every time something goes wrong for black people we like. Well, if it quacks like a duck you can go on believing it is just an “unbalanced checkbook.”

In our society sports is a symbol of power and leadership. When Jackie Robinson went to the majors it just didn’t affect baseball, it gave more energy to the Civil Rights Movement. When there are black head coaches and quarterbacks, it is a reminder that we can lead as well as perform. When Doug Williams was the quarterback here many called   the Tampa Bay Bucs “Black America’s team.” The Glazers latest move better turned the Bucs into winners again because they may lose fans that may never come back.

The NFL came up with a procedure called the Rooney Rule that is supposed to mandate that a minority is interviewed for every head coaching vacancy. What has happened is that some blacks are afraid to even go to the interviews because the interviews may be used against them for future jobs.  Some owners give out token interviews just to say they fulfilled the Rooney requirement. It is easy to hide racism and good ole boys behind the cold bottom line of business.

People who fire people in the middle of the night probably don’t care about what people like me think. My concern is for those who see such actions as an example of a system that many feel is too hard to overcome.

– Rivers-Cleveland

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