Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Stephen A. Smith Slams NFL for Ignoring ‘Rooney Rule’ with Joe Judge Head Coach Hire

*During Tuesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith reacted to news of the New York Giants hiring 38-year-old New England Patriots wide receivers coach Joe Judge as the team’s new head coach.

Smith and other sports analysts have slammed the surprise move, as Judge was selected over more qualified Black candidates.

And that’s the problem.

Smith went off on the NFL for ignoring the Rooney Rule. As noted by totalsportspro.com, the NFL’s Rooney Rule requires that teams interview minority candidates during every head-coaching search, and while team owners are finding it easy to interview a minority coach, they end up hiring a white candidate.

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There are only three Black head coaches in the NFL, which is the same number as when the Rooney Rule was instituted in 2003.

“I need to be very, very careful about what I have to say. Joe Judge, if you’re watching this show, I’ve never met this man. I’m not questioning the man’s capabilities at all. I know nothing about him. So, I want everyone to understand that my criticism — and it is a criticism — of this choice by the New York Giants, who are regressing before our very eyes as a standard in the National Football League,” said Smith. “Here’s the reason I say this. And, again, Mr. Joe Judge, to you and your family, I apologize. These comments are not directed towards him … This is the issue: You’re the New York Giants! It’s the media capital of the world! It’s a franchise that L.T. was once the face of, Phil Simms, even Jeff Hostetler, Bill Parcells! I mean, Michael Strahan! Are you kidding me?!

“And you come to the New York market — the media capital of the world, this bubble — with JOE JUDGE … You’re the wide receivers coach of the New England Patriots. What have we been saying all year? THEY DON’T HAVE ANY. So, that is the position that you’re coming from. I wish him nothing but the best, but the Giants — you’re the New York Giants. And this is what you come with?”

Smith went on call out the NFL over the process by which teams hire head coaches.

“You know what? We speak constantly and we preach in our society about going through the proper channels and the proper levels to elevate yourself to another level. And I’m telling you something right now. I am getting sick to my stomach at guys that I see — I’m just going to say it because nobody else, most people won’t. This don’t happen for black folk,” he said.

“A wide receivers coach that becomes the head coach. Eric Bieniemy is in Kansas City. Now, he’s the offensive coordinator even though he’s not the play-caller. That would be because the great Andy Reid is the one calling the plays. This guy gets those gratuitous interviews that don’t really amount to anything. I don’t know who they brought in for the Rooney Rule. The Cowboys brought in Marvin Lewis. And by the way because someone had that conversation with somebody about Marvin Lewis. Marvin Lewis coached in this league for 16 years. I know that Marvin Lewis deserves to be a head coach in the National Football League, but there’s something to be said about not winning a playoff game in those 16 years. There are plenty of African Americans in the National Football League, who by the way happen to be coordinators, that deserve a look.”

Later in the segment, Smith made clear his feelings about the league’s “bogus” Rooney Rule.

“I applaud the job that Matt LaFleur has done in Green Bay. But he was the offensive coordinator of the 27th ranked offense in the National Football League, when he got the job,” Smith began. “There is a guy in Arizona by the name of Kliff Kingsbury. He was under .500 in college football. And got a head coaching job. Today we are talking about a wide receivers coach who has never even been a coordinator in the National Football League and he’s now going to be the head coach in the media captial of the world for a New York Giants franchise. And there are three African American coaches in the National Football League.”

“WE GOT A PROBLEM! THIS IS SOME B.S. AIN’T NO WAY AROUND IT!” Smith shouted after discussing the successes of Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores and Anthony Lynn. “WE MOVIN’ IN THE REVERSE DIRECTION!”

Scroll up and watch Smith tell it via the clips above. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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