Lovie Smith became the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and just a scant three days after this bloggers epic rant about how Smth should not be the 2014 token black interview that some team does just to fulfill the requirement of the NFL’s now famous “Rooney Rule” that says each team must interview at least one minority candidate for a vacant head coaching position.
In the recent past, er 2013, there were not less than eight new NFL head coaches hired, and all of them were white, and not only were many of the names questionable, one of them, Rod Chudnisky, was just fired by his Cleveland Browns after a 4-12 year. And that (as Mike Silver pointed out in his now-legendary column over at Yahoo Sports) as many very qualified black candidates sat by wondering when they would get a call. Names like Hue Jackson, Jim Caldwell, Ray Horton (who openly lobbied for the Arizona Cardinals Head Coaching Job before it was given to former Colts assistant and interim head coach Bruce Arians), Curtis Modkins, Clarence Shelmon (the San Diego Charger Offensive Coordinator who gave up and retired, but would welcome a phone call), Terry Robiskie, Mike Singletary, Romeo Crennel (who had a terrible year at Kansas City, but so did Josh McDaniels at Denver and he’s still being considered as a head coaching candidate), Raheem Morris (who’s Tampa Bay work is actually better than Greg Schiano, who replaced him) and the great Bengals receivers coach James Urban, to name just some of them.
But, and after an unprecedentedly loud hue and cry, the NFL seems to be coming out of the 19th Century and into the 21st Century (yes, you did read that correctly). As it turns out, Lovie Smith, the former coach of the Chicago Bears, was clearly waiting out the year to see what would happen with the Tampa Bay Bucs coaching situation with the now-fired Greg Schiano. Coach Smith is not just the “anti-Greg Schiano” but a man who maintained a great relationship with the Glazer family, who owns the team. They, and the Tampa Bay fans, wanted Lovie Smith to return to Tampa, but not as an assistant (which is how he started) but as their head coach.
This week, they got him.
And the great news about the Lovie Smith hiring is they are paying him a salary worthy of his coaching talent and record: reportedly four years at $5 million per year. That’s much better than the less than $2 million a year the Chicago Bears were paying him, and they refused to renegotiate his contract.
Finally there’s sanity in the NFL. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Take note of what former Bucs Linebacker Derrick Brooks said to TampaBay.com: “I’m so excited for Lovie and the Bucs. It means so much to me personally. Hard to express it in words. Hard not to feel the franchise just got better tonight.”
And the World, too. No more token black interviews, please.