tv John Feinstein Raise a Fist Take a Knee CSPAN May 7, 2022 11:00am-12:01pm EDT
i'd like to welcome and thank you for joining us tonight. four days 23 hours and just about 30 minutes from kickoff of super bowl 56 in englewood, california. super bowl without the chiefs who to thank it. um funny thing in the in the run-up to what's annually the biggest most analyzed and hyped game on the planet. actually not so funny thing we
haven't been delused to this point with gushing stories about joe burrow, the the wonderkin bengals quarterback who beat the chiefs a couple of sundays ago or about the pressure. he's likely to get from the rams and one of the best defensive front sevens in the nfl. the dominant headlines have been off the field and they aren't gushing. the nfl has a racial equity problem. brian flores says so in a class action lawsuit filed last week against the league and three of its teams. he'd been fired as the miami dolphins coach after back-to-back winning seasons and didn't as he saw it get a fair shot at any of the other eight head coaching jobs filled past few weeks. in a suit, he says quote rules have been implemented promises made but nothing has changed. and he calls the nfl quote in
certain ways racially segregated and quote managed much like a plantation. now the league's commissioner roger goodell admits. there's a problem saying the leagues failure to add diversity to its head coaching ranks is unacceptable his word. and indeed the numbers are stark if in a league in which 70% of the players are black or other minorities only two head coaches or black and a total of five or minorities. now, of course john feinstein one of the best sports journalist on the planet was in front of the story. his latest book raise a fist take a knee. raced in the illusion of progress in modern sports came out in november it lays out the decidedly mixed record of success that sports and not just the nfl but also major league baseball big-time college football and basketball and other pro sports. had in promoting and especially
in achieving racial equity. baseball 30 teams two black managers and just one black executive running a team baseball operations. college football's top division the one in which alabama and ohio state and missouri and kansas play. 130 programs in which 60% of the players were black or other minorities this past season, but well more than 80% of the head coaches were white same for the people who hired those coaches more than 81% of the athletic directors at those schools were and are white of course, there's also the pushback against players who might dare to take a stand. we saw that six years ago when more than two dozen football players at the university of missouri threatened to sit out over the schools and the university systems handling of racist incidents on campus.
their coach gary pinkle supported them many others did not then the lebron james told to shut up and dribble. colin kaepernick is out of football. john whom i'm fortunate to call a friend and a former colleague is with us tonight to talk about his book and about the fact that the issues of racial discrimination and inequity plaguing society at large. do not spare sports the habit in the past. they still don't know. joining john in the conversation. is jaya don day another old friend who directs the sports journalism program at northwestern's renowned madill school of journalism media and integrated marketing communications. when i first talked to john a little while back about tonight about a program revolving around his book the first thing he said was this is the most important book i've written.
which for john is saying something? he's written 45 books, including two of the most acclaimed and best-selling sports titles of all time the season on the brink and a good walk spoiled. john's a long time writer and columnist for the washington post. he's contributed to many other national outlets both print and broadcast and as a member of five count of five halls of fame including the national sports writers and sportscasters hall of fame and the naismith memorial basketball hall of fame as a winner of its kurt gowdy award. jay has had has had in northwestern sports journalism programs since 2016 and is also an accomplished sports journalist, including 10 years as a columnist for the los angeles times and as a writer at the washington post alongside john and the chicago sun-times. you may recognize jay from his more than a thousand appearances
on espn's roundtable discussion show around the horn. now if you have a question over the course of their discussion and and we hope you do. you can submit it via the youtube live chat box and and we'll get as many answered as we can at the end of the presentation. john jay, it's it's great to see you again, and it's great to have you here. thanks so much for joining us and and welcome to both of you jay. i'll let you get things started. so much steve is great to see you again. it's great to be reunited with with the two of you and i appreciate that you thought of me for this discussion. certainly. these are topics that i've always felt are important really one of the reasons i got into sports journalism is to help tell the stories beyond the field and beyond the arena and to look at the interaction of sports in society and john is certainly taken on that challenge most specifically in this book and john of all the
multitude of books everyone starts with the same thing and that's an idea, right? so what was the idea and the motivation behind this book at this time? well, jay, first of all, thanks for doing this with me. i'm grateful to you for taking the time and and where i think we're both grateful to steve for reaching to steve for reaching out to us the my history with race and sports really goes back to when i was in college. i grew up in new york city. i played ball all the time in my neighborhood with white kids black kids in hispanic kids and the only thing that mattered and i'm sure you experienced this as a kid too was could you play it didn't matter what what race you were or what's your ethnic background was but when i got to do it was a lot different politically and in every possible way and my junior year duke played a football game in
army and duke back then as now was lousy in football. and so the durham morning herald the local paper i was starting to do some stringing work for them working for them as a non-staff or at times and they asked me to cover the duke army football game, which i was thrilled. i got paid 50 bucks to write a lead and a sidebar and that was huge money. and duke rallied in a second half to win the game when they brought in a freshman quarterback named mike dunn and i wrote about mike dunn coming in to save the game and then i wrote my sidebar on him and how duke of recruited him and the high hopes they had for him. he turned out to be a very good college player. and was very happy with myself. i made deadline flew home with team picked up the paper the next morning excited to see two bylines and when i got to the part where i introduced done in the lead. it said duke black freshman quarterback. my god and i was like what? i mean duke had black
linebackers back black running backs black wide receivers black everything. um done was the first black quarterback at this is 197. 0 75 and so i called the editor who had edited the two stories because he put it in the sidebar, too. and i said, what are you doing here? what difference does it make what color he is and he said john he's the first black quarterback dude's ever had that's part of the story and the funny thing. i was furious and the funny thing was when i was working on this book, and i was talking to doug williams who as you know, wrote the forward first black quarterback to everyone a super bowl and i go way back with doug and i told him that story and he laughed that and it's boy, were you naive? of course, they were gonna put that in the story one of my first experience with dealing with the fact that race is always there in one form or another and then in 2010 there were other incidents and i obviously known a lot of black
athletes and black coaches through the years, but in 2010 donovan mcnabb came to play quarterback here in washington. and in the eighth game of the season against the detroit lions, he'd taken every step and washington fell behind 30 to 25 at the two-minute warning and they took the kick off and rex grossman the immortal rex grossman who you with your chicago background, probably remember because you take the bears to the bears and super bowl the last super bowl. he's proof that lovie smith is a great coach. but rex grossman came in he hadn't taken a snap all season. like i said. first play he was stripped sacked by ndamukong suh picked a ball up ran into the end zone game over. so after the game shanahan was asked what made you change quarterbacks and and he could have said look i had a gut feeling about rex he could have said donovan wasn't having a great game, which he wasn't but instead he said well, i didn't
know if donovan knew our two minute offense. this is an 11th year nfl quarterback midway through the season and he didn't know the two minute offense. well that answer really didn't sit well with a lot of the media. so the next day he was asked it again this time. he said i didn't know if donovan was in shape to run back to back place. wow. so this simmered for a week washington was off the next week. it was a bye week there. bye week and chris mortenson who you know well and who i know well reported on espn that weekend that the shanahan's according to sources. it was anonymous. according to sources the shanahan's had to cut their playbook in half for mcnatt. this guy who's taking a team to the super bowl? he's been a pro bowl quarterback. i think the eagles had made the playoffs seven times in his ten years there. and now in a week, he's been called out of shape of not
prepared and finally anonymously dumb. by his coaches now you knew where it came from it came from one of the shanahans either mike or kyle. so the next day i went on a tv show that i think you were on through the years washington post live and i attacked the mike shanahan. i said, this is racial coding. this goes back to the 60s and 70s when people claim that blacks weren't smart enough to play the quarterback position. and i and what was most fascinating about it. jay was how i was attacked. in in the washington media in particularly the national media. i was accused of playing the race card. which is what happens often when you bring up racism issue as tony dungy likes to say when i bring up. races and issue people say why are you making race an issue and my answer is because it is an issue. and of course he's 100% right so that simmered with me until the
anthem protests in 2017 what colin kaepernick was clearly blackballed out of the league and yet most of the nfl media was writing stories quoting sources is saying oh no. no, he wasn't black gold. he's just not good enough anymore. he was 29 years old. he'd been the starting quarterback for the 49ers the year before the last 11 games of the season and all of a sudden he's not good enough to be in there at the top 64 quarterbacks in the league. but they they duly reported it and then during the anthem protests. after donald trump's rant, you know whenever players were kneeling most black. fans were brewing most white and i thought wow. wow. we are really polarized in this country right now. racially, and i went to see john thompson who i had known. since i first got to the post, excuse me when he was in the middle of his hall of fame career at georgetown and we'd fought for much of that time
legendary fights. some of them were pretty legendary kind when i was stupid enough to to offer to go outside with him and figure things out that way which would not have worked out well for me fortunately. he laughed at me and refused the offer but john had become kind of a mentor to me in many ways after he retired because he's so he was so -- smart. and i went and i said to him i want to do a book on race in sports, but i don't know where to start. and he said you might as well try to explain the holy trinity and then he pointed a finger it means which is why you have to oh, which is why you have to do it. but i still didn't have a way in. the next year i found the way in. which was lamar jackson who as you remember when he came out of college was told become a wide receiver become a running back. your skills aren't right for an nfl quarterback.
four white quarterbacks were drafted in the top 10 that year one of them. josh. allen has become a star baker mayfield's. okay. um and josh rosen is unlike his fourth team already and sam darnold has failed both in with the jets. most surprised to me as a lifelong jets fan and with the carolina panthers. lamar jackson went with the last pick in the first round and not coincidentally was chosen by ozzie newsom. was the first black general manager in the well, we all know what what's come come to pass. lamar was unanimous mvp in his second year in the league he when he got hurt this year the ravens fell apart completely. they never won another game after he got injured. he's one of the four who at worst one of the excuse me four or five best quarterbacks in the nfl and yet all these experts these the scouts the pundits on tv bill pulley, and i'm not picking on him, but he just happens to be a hall of famer
who was on tv at the time all said he shouldn't be a quarterback. steve young was very fast. fran tarkenton was very fast. no one ever suggested they changed positions. if lamar jackson was the exact same player and he was white. no one would have ever suggested. he changed positions. so that was my way into the book. i want to go back to that story and told about. the duke army game and seeing words added to your lead. i'm wondering what you learned about how and from your subsequent or you're more recent conversation with doug williams about that about how in some cases. black people want the race to be included, you know, it's not a sidebar when lamar jackson is the mvp that there's significance that the racial component of that is significant when patrick mahomes wins a super bowl mvp. the racial component of that is
significant. how did you become aware of that and maybe how did you come to incorporate that in your writing? well, it's funny because i obviously i went and talked to my gun. after that happened we were fellow students and i apologize to him. and and mike said don't worry about it. i understand why they did it. i mean he's very bright guy and um, you make a good point that it when the first time i interviewed doug williams when he was in tampa, i know this became kind of a famous story at the super bowl later, but i apologize to him because we were about a year late getting down there. we being the washington post. he was in his second year by the time george solomon sent me down to write a story about him and and by then the bucks had gotten good and they went to the playoffs that year. they actually went to the nfc championship game, but when i sat down with doug i said, i'm really sorry that make you an answer all these questions again, and he looked at me. he said john i've been a black
quarterback all my life. so far away and don't worry about it. and you know that when people reference white guilt i think sometimes i probably have some of that but it's for good reason there's reason for us to feel guilty about the way blacks have been treated. in this country for 400 plus years now, but also in sports and leonard hamilton the florida state basketball coach who grew up with jim crow. in in charlotte, north carolina said to me look for any of us to say progress hasn't been made is stupid. i mean i grew up with white only water fountains and having to sit in the balcony at the movies and and dealing with that throughout my boyhood and obviously that's totally different now he said but people there are people many of them 74 million people voted for donald trump a little more than a year ago who want to believe that
because there's no jim crow because they're a voting rights laws. although now that some of them are basically being repealed. it's okay. we don't have to worry about race anymore. well, that's just not true as we all know. it's it's the fact that steve mentioned the brian flores case. it's 2022. jackie it'll be 75 years. since jackie robinson made his debut in brooklyn. come april. and we're still dealing with some of the same stuff jay. i mean, you know that you you live with it every day and what i mean, look at black participation to major league baseball, right? i mean it peaked in the 70s into the mid 80s and it's outstanding it was down to six percent. it's now come back up to eight percent about half of where it was about 40 years ago. yeah. i was almost 20% at that point and part of it is just the way our society has changed, you know, the kids want to play
basketball. they want to play baseball. they don't want to that football. they don't want to play baseball as much you don't see, you know, when i was a kid, we played in the schoolyard or in the park every single day when the weather was warm and now you don't necessarily see that when the weather's warm you see a lot of kids playing basketball. and but again mlb like has not done a great job then now they say everybody now says, you know steve quota roger. goodell is saying well that this situation with coaches and general managers is quote unacceptable. okay, if we're we had three black coaches in the nfl last year now, we have two plus someone who's biracial and identifies as black. so the number of black coaches has actually gone down. when it was already brutally low. and for a long time for the last month, we only had one black coach in the nfl and that was mike tomlin and he still has a
job because he's going to the hall of fame. okay hard to fire him at this point. and you know, i asked both mike and tony dungy. i leaned on both of them heavily in my reporting as you can tell and reading the book. what why wouldn't roger goodell talk to me because i've known goodell since he first got the job and i always got along fine with him and i was turned down flat. i interviewed every other major commission turn down flat to interview goodell and ironically the day they put out the statement when florida sued them. it was almost word for word the email that i got from brian mccarthy the nfl's pr guy on why roger wouldn't speak to me, you know the nfl rogers very busy trying to promote diversity and blah blah blah and i so i said to tomlin and tony dungey, why wouldn't he talk to me and they both said the same thing? he's embarrassed. he you know, i don't think roger goodell is a bad guy, but he's not the problem here tell the owners what to do because they're paying him 44 million
bucks here. so doug williams wrote the forward to the book and in it. he said if this book were to be written by someone who is black a lot of people would shrug and say it's just another black guy whining. so i'm wondering how you took advantage of your whiteness to write this book how that came into play. starting with do you think it could have been published if you were not white? well, that's a very good question, and i don't know the answer to that but both kevin blackistone and michael wilbon who you know, well, you know the both well said to me when i talk to them early in my reporting that in it was better. that if this book was being written by a white guy. and there are going to be some guys out there say one of the publishers who turned down the the idea there were five publishers who turned it down said, how can you write a book about race when you're white? and i said well white is a race, isn't it and i've written books about being a college basketball
coach that ever being one. i've written books about playing golf on the pga tour got knows i never been on the pga tour. so i i as doug said as i said in the book, i don't pretend that i know what it's like to be black. i've never been pulled over for dwb driving while black when i'm pulled over. it's usually because i deserve it. um, but i every single person i interviewed and i i'm guessing that you you'd be right in there. jay has been pulled over at some point. for driving while black and of course the exception of that story was colin jones the olympics swimmer who literally was stopped by a cop while walking his dog. because the cop was convinced he had somehow stolen the dog and i said to calling you the first guy i've interviewed who was stopped for wdwb walking dog while black. and so but but i went into the book knowing that i i can't empathize with what it's like to
be black, but i can certainly sympathize because of all the people i've known and because of all the people i i got to interview for this book and you would be amazed the number of people you probably wouldn't be amazed but many many of the people i interviewed thanked me for wanting to do the book. for the exact same reason that will bond and blackistone said it's better that you're doing it because you're white they like the fact that even though i can't understand what it's like to be black did i was trying to explain what it's like to be black. it's not in my case it was. rbwb riding bicycle while black. hey, that's so happy pulled over and got a bun got a gun pointed at me as well in georgetown when i was an intern watch post. why can't be a black guy in georgetown? you we talk about coaching and and you know, where do we stand
now? and in particular, why don't we seeing the advancement? i want to stop and you know, we criticize the numbers but i feel like we don't do a good enough job of praising when the right thing is done and if you look at the tampa bay buccaneers, they've had three black head coaches in their history and they just want a super bowl last year with the staff that bruce arians very purposefully had filled out with black coordinators at all, the three major coordinating positions in addition to two female coaches when he had one in arizona. he said, you know what that's not just do one. let's do two so we very purposely built this diverse staff wins a super bowl with it and yet it doesn't lead to any wave of hiring right here. we had those same coaching staff in the semifinals of the nfl playoffs we have that's frasier, right, you know bringing morris like we've got all these coaches succeeding the class and of course eric the enemy i hasn't
this success now. haven't the people who have shown you can do it increased and created some type of copycat around the league well, and that's a great point and it's one that tony dungey made to me. he said the notion that there are not qualified guys out there as just is so far out of line right now because clearly there are plenty of qualified black coaches out there and i i think you know some of it gets back to the very simple fact that there are 31 nfl owners. the packers are owned by by the city basically or fans but 31 nfl owners 30 of them are white and interestingly the owner in jacksonville who grew up in pakistan has never hired a black coach or general manager and we see how well that's worked out for him in recent years,
especially this past year, but you're talking about people and this is this is a unique to the nfl. it's also true in college big-time college sports. it's true as you mentioned in major major league baseball, and it's true in the although the nba has had so much success. so many black coaches have had success in the nba dating back to bill russell. with the celtics because the nba was so far ahead of the curve. thanks in large part to red hour back, but white guys look some of look at somebody sitting in their office and they're just more comfortable with somebody who looks like them. and a lot of these are old white billionaires. who don't want anybody are are used to nobody telling them what to do. i used to people telling them the right no matter what they do. and so and and they're you know it i i felt before the floor is lawsuit.
and before i think there were people on the phone saying to houston and to miami when there were only three jobs left open at that point. the other one was new orleans. hey, we got a hire a black coach or two for all hell is gonna break loose i felt like before that. when the floors was fired the day after the nfl season ended in a lot of people myself included a tax steve ross and attacked the nfl. for the fact that and and there's empirical evidence of this that black coaches have a shorter leash. not only is it harder to get hired. it's harder to avoid being fired levy smith was fired in chicago after he got ten and six. yeah well with the reading record in detroit yeah with the jim caldwell. had the best record of any lions coach who'd been there at least four years in 60 years and they fired how they've done since then. okay, really gone well for them hasn't it? but but i i felt like some of
the owners just dug in and said, we're not gonna let anybody in the media or anybody else tell us what to do or who to hire and the first six hires in this this hiring cycle. we're all white. and i'm not saying any of them are unqualified. i'm not in the whole bill belichick text thing with brian flores. kind of sums up. who these owners are and john merritt's supposed to be one of the distinguished guys, you know, he's no dan snyder and yet there was belichick accidentally congratulating flores. forgetting the giants job three days before he was interviewed and when brian daybol all had apparently already been hired. so what kind of interview was that? we have a question from the audience asking. what do you make of airbnme situation? in fact, he hasn't landed head coaching jobs. it's discrimination parent symbolism more nuance and you talk to tony dungey for the book
about vietnamese situations. so what what do you make of it? well, as you know, tony dungy is hardly a jump on the table and shout guy. he's very low-key always wants to hear both sides of question. and when i i was sitting at his dining room table. and i i said so eric the enemy and before i could finish the question. he said now that was racism and this was two years ago. this was too high hiring cycles ago. and he just he said there's there's absolutely no reason for eric the enemy to not have a job based what he has accomplished. he's running the best offense in football, and he still is and the chiefs lost aside in in the conference championship game and as i said, i think before we got on started i mentioned that when i interviewed eric the enemy for the book.
he was bright. he was smart. he was funny. he was a storyteller. he clearly had a great memory he recited to me a poem that the coaches or a chant. excuse me that his coaches in new orleans when he was 10 years old made the kids recite at the end of practice every day about drugs. so the notion that he hasn't gotten a job because he doesn't interview well as ridiculous and then there's the the excuse that well he doesn't call the place. well neither did matt naggy needed a duck peterson and won a super bowl and when he was an assistant coach neither did andy reid and if i'm being repetitive forgive me, but there's no reason for eric the enemy not to have a job. there's no reason for byron left which not to have a job. i mean, these are bright young coaches and eric's not that young anymore, but leftwich certainly is and it seems like everybody now wants to hire the next sean mcveigh. that they want to hire a guy
who's whiteness 30s and has a little bit of a beard. um, you know doesn't shave every day. and look sean mcveigh's a terrific coach second super bowl that on sunday, but that that shouldn't be the role model for who you're hiring. the role models should be how good have you been as an assistant or how good? were you as a head coach bill belichick failed in his first job as a head coach and clearly there were circumstances that prevented him from succeeding in cleveland because he's certainly done pretty well in new england. um, just because you get fired once doesn't mean you should never get another chance although willy randolph in baseball had a winning record with the new york mets completely turned them around from 71 wins to 97 wins in two years got fired and that was 13 years ago and he's never gotten another job and whereas white managers get recycled every day in baseball.
i can't think of the last time i heard willy randolph's name before you just mentioned it right here you let's switch to the nba for a moment because the nba does have a better record if you look at the numbers and it no longer seems like news when when a black coach gets hired in the nba and yet how many of the better jobs go to to black coaches? i also want to just i want to point that out there, you know we've had you know recent years black coaches tyronn lue doc rivers, but it's still somewhat infrequent when you look at the list and the history of black coaches who have won championships in the nba despite the you know, we're seeing a pretty representative number throughout the league right now. some of those coaches have one championships guys like steve kerr and great popovich the two spoke to what did you learn from them about how a white coach can succeed in a league that is predominantly black. what is their key to success in that regard?
well, i think when you mentioned current popovich, you're talking about two guys who really understand. uh what it to as much as a white guy can what it's like to be black and both of them told me steven particular, but both of them told me that the george floyd thing. change their outlook and these are guys who had pretty good outlooks on the issue beforehand, but that they both said my god, you know, i don't know enough about what's going on in this country really given all that. that's pretty stunning to me. they given the amount of time they spent and i would say the interest that they take right in the lives and the interests and the concerns of their black players and yet they still after all that time felt like they didn't know enough they needed to know more and mike shashesky was the same way. he actually did zoom calls with every form of black player all this former players, but many of them black to try to learn more to try to understand the
frustrations, um, because he felt he didn't understand the frustrations and that's why he did the black lives matter video that he did which if you haven't seen it, it's two minutes and 47 seconds and it's it's really passionate. and he told me he didn't write anything. he just he has no one smith former player one of his assistants to stand next to the camera and he spoke to nolan smith. and said, this is how i feel and popovich actually said he had his first experience with understanding when he was in college at the air force academy and they were playing in north carolina and he and three teammates went to a club. and they were waiting in line and they got to the front of the line and the bouncer looked at. there were three white guys and one black guy and he looked at the black guy and said you can't come in here. and and they were they because again they were in colorado which is different from north carolina and and greg had grown up out outside chicago.
and what are you talking about? he can't come in. well, we don't let blacks in here. so all four of them left. and popovich said he realized that night how white his life had been that he'd never really. even though he played ball with black guys. he never really known black guys and he made it a point to try to understand and he told me that he's told his players on different occasions if i were black. i'd have gone to jail a number of times because of the way. police have dealt with him and steve, you know steve. he's just one of the bright guys out there. he also is a popovich the disciple and he said that he went on a reading spree to try to understand better what it's like to be black and it one of his assistant coaches told them that he was watching the news one night, um after the the amato aubrey shooting and his eight year old son walked in and he didn't realize he was there
and his son turned him and said dad does this mean we can't run in our neighborhood because that's how i'm out aubrey got murdered and he realized oh my god, i mean i've never had to deal with that with my kids. and and plus anybody who's a father. a black father has to give their kids the talk about dealing with police and you know, don't give them an excuse to to give you a hard time and mike tomlin told me that he said his two teenage sons down a few years back when they were both getting ready to get driver's licenses and explain this to him to them and his older son said oh, come on dad. that's not gonna happen. this is 2018. it's a different world than you what you grew up in in norfolk, virginia and mike just said, okay and three times in the first year, his son had a driver's license. he was stopped for dwb and the first questions always the same. where'd you get this car? because black person can't
possibly be driving a nice. i'm wondering when the office saw tomlin on the driver's license. did that change anything that did? well, i did apparently that because it twice it was in their neighborhood and i guess the cops knew where my common lived and in pittsburgh, but tony dungy told me he got stopped in kansas city driving home late from work one night. cop just followed him followed him followed him. finally pulled him over and claimed that he had he because he knew the comp was behind him. he was being extra careful. he claimed he had, you know made a right turn on red without stopping. and tony just he come on. you're just giving me a hard time and and he said, you know, it could have escalated and the best story about that best in quotes was was doc rivers told me that when the the clippers played in the old la sports arena, they all had to drive
through south central la to get to the arena and one afternoon kenny norman who was on the team pulled over to get gas and the next thing he knew he was across the hood of his car. because cops driving by south central black guy driving nice car. it had to be stolen. three comments from the audience. i want to get in here quickly one says thank you for mentioning. willie randolph that situation has always disturbed me another one. i just finished reading your book last month, and it's one of the best additions to my sports library. thank you and this third one one of my best friends when his wife friends asked what they can do to help combat systemic racism always say we need your voice. thank you for using your voice. and i also want to use that to ask going back a little bit to what you had to say about popovich and kerr and and their need to to listen they felt they had the need to listen, is that the solution and willingness to listen both from your reporting for this book and you know your
life and life experiences, you know when we ask, okay what can change how can things change is it that simple and or is that request? that difficult to ask it unfortunately, yes, that would be a great solution. unfortunately. it's it's a difficult ask and again i go back to the 74 million people who voted for donald trump, and i'm not saying they're all racists, but donald trump is a racist. i mean you can't argue that if you know his life if you know his policies if you know the words he spoken and yet all these people still chose to vote for him. and and i thank god joe biden was elected, but i i found that very discouraging that it was as close as it was. um, but especially after trump had been in office for four years and if you didn't know who he was before he got into office you had to know who he was after
he got into office remember it was trump who incited the anthem protest when he gave that rant in alabama saying, you know what i want to see and i want to see if you kneel during our national anthem. the owner says fire that sob fire that son of a -- you really die down right before that, right the the protests that died down right before that rant six players had knelt. the next week 200 players either knelt or stayed in the locker room. mike tomlin gave his players the option to stay in the locker room if they wanted to there was one other team that stayed in the locker if any white players knew. yes. exactly and and it's funny because i was working on a book on playing quarterback in the nfl that year and alex smith was one of the guys i was working with he was playing for the chiefs at the time and he said to me that he felt so bad for his black teammates. he said if they kneel they're
going to get boot they're going to be considered unpatriotic. they're going to be considered betrayers of some kind but if they don't kneel. aren't they betraying? their race at this point when when the president is literally challenged them when other when colin kaepernick is being blackballed. and by the way, i did i never talked to a player white or black who didn't think colin kaepernick was blackwald on goodall finally basically admitted it a couple years back a year and a half ago now, but i think that it's it's it again it's hard for people to understand that just because doesn't affect your life. because if you're white in this country, there are a lot of people who are completely unaffected by race. and just because it doesn't affect your life doesn't mean it's not an issue and to say it's not an issue as tony dungy says people keep saying why do
you make race an issue? well, because it is and to say oh, i don't think it's an issue. well, you just you're being either naive or ignorant or just flat out stubborn. so you spoke to john carlos and tommy smith. i'm gonna paraphrase this question from the audience here. do you think that history will look at concaepernick and brian flores in a similar life with the same type appreciation is as we have for them now, i honestly do and it's funny because both tommy smith and john carlos told me they believe that about colin kaepernick. that it would happen faster for him because things are better now than they used to be a espn documentary coming out right exactly. right and and my guess is if i don't know. did he talk to him you might know. yeah, he's involved in that. okay, but okay, and i think it's actually a production and espn bought it. so he's being paid for. so my guess is it'll be fairly
sympathetic, but the larger point is that when when people do something that where they know they're putting themselves in jeopardy. that's what tommy smith and john carlos. did they knew they were putting themselves in jeopardy? so did peter norman excuse me, the australian who was on the metal podium with them who wore a button supporting the group that they were a part of that harry edwards had started prior to the olympics and he was absolutely hillary in australia for that and and was an outcast and only after he died. he died in 2006 carlos and smith were both paul bearers by the way and both eulogists in 2012 the australian parliament actually formally apologized to his family for the way. he had been treated so they all knew. colin kaepernick knew when he
sat and then knelt for the anthem that it was going to have consequences and it ended up costing him his career as we know and i don't know. i thought maybe. that roger goodell would get on a phone to somebody and say hi or brian flores right now to try to head off the lawsuit. but it didn't happen and i think chances are very good. brian flores will never work in the nfl again. and he's only 40 years old. he should be going into the peak years of his coaching career. maybe he'll end up as a college coach somewhere, but i i think there's a good chance as nfl careers over and if so sure he should be he should be viewed as a martyr a professional martyr. it would be interesting is if you know with with dion sanders at jackson state now and hugh jackson and grambling doug williams coach the gambling before when we see these, you know prominent nfl names coaching at hbcus historically
black colleges in the future. i would keep an eye on that trend as well other thing. i would say if deion sanders continues to have the success he had this year at jackson state a power five schools gonna hire because why wouldn't you hire deion sanders if he can coach any early evidences he can coach and and he can certainly recruit? so i said i wrote a column about dion and december and i said i wish my alma mater duke had hired him instead of just another white assistant coach. i'm kind of thinking prime time at duke. i think it'd be great. that's your school john. would that work? would that fit? i think it would because look the the kids who to the basketball games. also go to foot some of them go to football games. not that many because the football team so bad. i think they would love deion sanders, especially if you want. and by the way, i don't know how well, you know deon, but i got i got to know him very well when i
did my book on the baltimore ravens in 2004 because he was there. and i'm telling you he can take over any room he's in. he because he's got that personality but also because he's so -- smart. deion sanders coaching at duke would have to be your next book. it would have to be if that happened. i would be there absolutely. question here, john. can we find a path to equity in head coaching positions without dealing with the lingering perception that black athletes are successful because they're bigger stronger faster while right athletes are so often thought to be successful because they play smarter and john i would argue that that's an us thing right the media the the way we shape. we're all the perceptions. strictly a matter of that, isn't it? yeah when we're all guilty. it's like we were all guilty in the 90s of looking the other way when when steroids were taking over baseball and there is
definitely that pre you know perception and and there's almost there's coding particularly on tv when people talk about the the white point guard who's so cerebral and the most the most cerebral point guard i ever known was tommy hammacher who wasn't big was in fast wasn't quick. all he did was win the game for you now coaches at harvard and now coaches at harvard which is sort of appropriate isn't it? but and by the way, one of my favorite stories is tommy they play mit every year in their opening game. usually they're opening game because their schools are like a mile apart and the amit students come to harvard and when the harvard players are introduced they can't safety school. yeah. which i think is great. but yes, we do need to get that perception it you know, the old saying perception is reality. unfortunately. yeah people believe perception to be reality and it's like when
idiots like what's your name on fox news on blocking on her name right now say shut up and dribble. there are people listening to her. and and and most of the time lebron james makes sense. he's not always right. none of us are but you know the notion that because you play ball or because you're black or worse both you can't have opinions on things. you know, how many times have you i know it happens to me all the time. people say stick to sports. well you it's politics have been a part of sports forever, you know, go back to the 1936 olympics and adolf hitler or go back to the first greek olympics when when the guy was running to athens in random quote a marathon to give news of award victory collapse and died upon giving the news. that was the first olympics. another question interesting
point, you know professional teams are privately owned with noticeable sections like the packers. most universities are state funded. so how is it they were able to get away with these kinds of racial inequities and hiring it's a good question and it's worth noting that most college athletic departments are 501c3s their tax tax exempt major league baseball has a they're exempt from the blocking on the name of the law. you know what i'm talking about and and the nfl is not as as much antique trust again, and i trust. yeah and trust loss and so you're right. how do they get away with it and the way they get away with it. unfortunately, is that most boosters of the major schools are white um, and you know the you know, i had a friend who since passed away who went to duke.
love duke and loved all of duke's black basketball players because they were good. um, but was was absolutely a racist. and he accepted he was fine with blacks playing for his school and helping his school win. but he didn't want any of them over to dinner. and you know, that's true of a lot of fans and alumni of these schools. and i know i'm over generalizing. um, but a lot of people who will defend got played athletes from their school black or white. also don't want to have the black athletes to their house for dinner and probably in many cases don't want a black person coaching their teams or their players. and i've been thinking recently about conversation i had with peter gruber who's movie producer kohner of the warriors and the la dodgers and you know, he always talks about tribalism and that we associate with
different tribes and he doesn't consider that a bad thing. you know. it's a natural instinct. you know, you can't necessarily say that when we look at the lack of diversion hopes. it's not necessarily racism, you know, it's tribalism in that people are gonna hire people that they're comfortable with that make them feel comfortable, right? they're gonna gravitate toward that i would say the racism comes into play is like why have they lived such segregated lives when they haven't been around black people or people of different races in order to be more comfortable, but you know, so the racism comes into play in that we're segregated and then the tribalism comes into play and that you're not exposed to different people and when it's time to hire you only feel comfortable with certain people but we can't legislate hire. we don't want to force hiring. they can force interviews, but it has to stop short of mandating you hire people based
on race. and so therefore if we can't do that, how do you make people comfortable if they're coming from a society? that's segregated. well, that's the catch 22 question and and i think most of those making these hires would be shocked if you said to them that they've acted that the racists that they've acted in a way that's racist. i don't think mike shanahan is is a racist but i i do think that without thinking about it. he resorted to racial coding in in the donovan ad situation. he probably if somebody pointed it out to him. he probably would say, oh my god, that's not what i meant. well, except that's what came out and that's that that that's the way he was thinking and i i think you know, i i know people who well the perfect example john gruden after his emails, he said there's not a racist bone in my body. well, of course there is but i
think he honestly believes there's not and and i think that's true of many people who would say. oh, i'm not a racist. oh, i had a friend who worked on the pga golf tour for many years and we used to argue all the time about the fact that i believed he was a racist and this somebody was a friend of mine. and he i'm not a racist at all. you know jim thorpe. this guy had played on the tour. jim thorpe was one of my best friends when i played on the tour. okay, what would you do? i asked if your daughter came to the front door. with an introduced you to her black boyfriend and he looked at me and he said honestly, i go get my shotgun. wow, that's really honest. wow, but, you know, there are certain tests and there's certain levels and actually hiring somebody rather than just interviewing them because the rules say say you have to interview someone. it are too completely different levels and i i give dan rooney credit because he had already
met his rooney rule obligation by interviewing ron rivera the year. he hired mike tomlin and tomlin just blew him away as he as he put it but the other interesting thing is ron rivera who basically grew up in california is considered a minority and robert salah is considered a minority because he's muslim and i asked brian mccarthy of the nfl i said, so when marv levy and steve gilman were coaching where they considered minorities because they're jewish. and he said no, they're not so i don't know how they draw those lines. i mean and and the bottom line is it like you said 70% of leaks black and we now have two black coaches and one mixed race coach. my final question, i would say my personal favorite of all your books is goodwalk spoiled. i read that on the way to covering my first british open really took me into the world of golf and and a lot of history of it as well.
why hasn't tiger tiger woods led to a explosion or a greater wave of black golfers were what 25 years past his master's when now why hasn't that happened? well, when tiger won the masters in 1997 a lot of money started pouring into the first tea. and i think we all thought that we were going to see a lot more. not tiger woods, but very good good pga tour level black players. um, the first tea has produced one player on the pga tour and he is a minority scott langley. he's left-handed. but not one black player. i guess the nfl consider that a minority. um, and i think some of it has to do with tiger. it's not like tiger is out there. you know, he has his foundation and that's great, but it's not like he's aggressively out there trying to say. hey look at me try to go up to
be like me, um tigers, you know, he's got his name privacy that says all you need to know about who he is. um, and i also harold varner the third who's completely the opposite of tiger as a personality. he's out going he's friendly just want to tournament overseas. um, but harold who's been involved with the first tea in north carolina where he grew up says the first he isn't about golf. it's it it ain't enough. it's about you know, it's it's daycare at a golf course and what harold is suggested is they need more programs in golf like the one he grew up in he got to play at a golf a municipal course in gastonia, north carolina. for his dad paid a hundred dollars for the summer and he got to play monday through friday. we need more of that in golf. not so much people saying, okay learn the rules learn the etiquette as well play. that's the way you get good you go out and play. awesome um steve you want to
join us here john at you know, as somebody who's, you know been able to share dinner and conversation and what you've held court i knew an hour plus was vastly insufficient. this has been terrific and jay i mean both of you guys i can't. thank you enough for you know being with us tonight. i do wish we had two hours. to do this, but i suspect we'll be talking by not suspect. i know we'll be talking about. these issues, you know. well beyond tonight well beyond sunday, you know probably will be on when we're doing what we're doing. but for those of you out there john's book again is raise a fists take a knee race and the illusion of progress in modern sports. and and as always we encourage you to buy it at your local