Gregg Williams is the one-legged bus boy to Lovie Smith’s Chris Rock:
None of you would change places with me. And I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white. There’s a white, one-legged busboy in here right now that won’t change places with my black ass. He’s going, “No, man, l don’t wanna switch. l wanna ride this white thing out. See where it takes me.”
I used to think that was nothing more than a hilarious quote, a piece of hyperbole that Rock used to illustrate an opinion. But after seeing what the Titans just did, I’m no longer so sure it’s hyperbole.
In case the name doesn’t sound familiar, Gregg Williams is one of the central figures in the Bountygate scandal that wrecked the ‘Aints’ 2012 season. Not only was he accused of bringing an illegal bounty system with him to New Orleans, but he waited about 15 seconds before he started snitching on his own players. It wasn’t even three months ago that every sports commentator in America was saying Gregg Williams’s career in the NFL was over. Who would ever hire this guy to be their defensive coordinator when he was a known locker room snitch?
The commentators were right: no one wanted to hire him to be their defensive coordinator. Someone wanted to hire him to be their assistant head coach.
Williams is on his way to Nashville to claim his new position as assistant HC for the Tennessee Titans. Forget the fact that he’s a snitch who no player should trust. Forget the fact that, technically, he’s currently banned by the bleepin NFL. Nashville came a-callin, and Gregg Williams just backed into a promotion.
Not just a job. Not just a second chance. Not just a prestigious, highly-coveted role somewhere on the coaching staff of an NFL team.
Meanwhile, Lovie Smith is still out of a job, choosing to sit out the 2013 season instead of taking a demotion to become a coordinator somewhere lame like San Diego.
It’s not like Lovie Smith is a bad coach. It’s not like Lovie Smith has coached bad defenses. It’s not like Lovie Smith didn’t WANT to coach. Conversely, Gregg Williams WAS a bad coach, and he DID coach bad defenses. And yeah, he wanted to coach, but the NFL kinda sorta wasn’t feeling that. And yet here we are today: Williams has a job (or at least a job offer) and Smith has more free time than Vatican party promoter.
I can’t read minds. No one can. So other than whoever is making hiring decisions for the Titans no one can tell you with absolute mathematical certainty how much of this particular decision was influenced by race. But it sure looks bad don’t it? What is it exactly about Lovie Smith – former Coach of the Year, sterling reputation in the league, good winning percentage, devoted family man and Christian – that makes him so much less enticing than Gregg Williams – questionable integrity, questionable ability to succeed, questionable ability to garner players’ respect, known practitioner of Santería* – to the point where Tennessee would fall all over themselves to hire Williams despite the fact that they don’t even know if the NFL will allow him to work for them?
You see why this looks bad right? This absolutely SCREAMS “one-legged busboy.” Lovie Smith has done everything right. He led his teams to success. He worked hard even while being Scottie Pippen’d with his criminally low salary. He has ruffled few (if any!) feathers. Meanwhile, Gregg Williams has done just about everything wrong. He violated the sanctity of the locker room. That’s a cardinal sin in team sports. And let’s not forget he ain’t even all that as a coach. It’s not like the ‘Aints defense was humming before he got suspended, and it’s not like his previous stints in the league were all that successful either.
So what does Williams possibly have going for him that could lead to his hiring? Other than being a white coach in the good ol’ boy system that is the NFL, I can’t really think of anything. He’s only got that one leg to stand on, but dammit he’s gonna stand on it! If everyone keeps encouraging it, why the hell wouldn’t he? It’s hard to keep trying to convince us this is a meritocracy when shit like this happens. It’s like ANY white coach would do. Any of em!
“Players don’t trust you? No problem, Coach, I can tell you got what it takes, if you know what I’m saying.”
“NFL says you can’t work anymore? Ehhh we’ll figure it out, Coach, I can tell just by looking at you you’re the right man for the job. We have a way of getting what we want.”
“Oh you used to kill hitchhikers in the Arizona desert? That’s okay, we understand these things happen, Coach. Now, tell me more about that time you saw Skynyrd live.”
“Incredible resume. Hmm… what’d you say your daddy’s name was? Jamal? Ah ha!! I mean– uh, oh shoot. We forgot to tell you, son, position just filled up. Sorry! Hey, somebody get Chudzinski back in here ASAP, tell him we changed our minds.”
It’s disappointing to say the least.
* I might have made up one of these things.