Broncos' Vic Fangio says he doesn't 'see racism' in the NFL, so clearly he isn't looking hard enough

Sporting News

Vic Fangio sounds like a seasoned Facebook commenter.

The Broncos coach has spent parts of four decades in the NFL at some level, but throughout that time, apparently, the NFL's racial diversity issues have been totally nonexistent.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Fangio said he doesn't see racism in the NFL.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

"I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We're a league of meritocracy, you earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don't see racism at all in the NFL, I don't see discrimination in the NFL," Fangio said, per ESPN. "We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we'd all be great."

MORE: Steelers lose 54-year tradition with training camps staying home

While the NFL is made up of roughly 70 percent black players, the league has taken active stances in the past two decades to try to increase the number of people of color in front offices and on the sidelines. Famously, the Rooney Rule was implemented in 2003 but since has come under fire as "forced diversity" rather than a legitimate attempt to increase racial diversity across the league.

Mike Tomlin, one of the league's three black head coaches, recently agreed that the Rooney Rule needed some serious changes.

"We've always taken it from the approach of, punitive if you don't interview minority candidates or things of that nature," Tomlin said. "I just like the different approach in terms of spinning it 180 and talking about maybe incentivizing those that develop the talent and those that hire the talent.

"We're making some adjustments because we're acknowledging right now that the system is broken, that minorities are not getting enough opportunity," Tomlin said. "And we're trying to just figure out how to stimulate that. ... I agree it's debatable about the value placed on the incentivized plan, but I just generally like the discussion."

While Tomlin's hiring wasn't exactly a direct result of the Rooney Rule in action — the Steelers interviewed Ron Rivera to satisfy the rule — being in favor of the expansion of the rule says enough about what Fangio perceives doesn't exist. And if Tomlin sees an issue with the same system that Fangio does not, then it's fair to explore the disconnect between their viewpoints.

Entering 2020, Kansas City's Eric Bieniemy and Tampa Bay's Byron Leftwich are the only black offensive coordinators in the league, while Tomlin, the Chargers' Anthony Lynn and the Dolphins' Brian Flores are the only three black head coaches. Fangio's viewpoint was also met with resistance from current NFL players Chris Carson and Quandre Diggs, as ESPN noted.

By the way, this all goes without mentioning Colin Kaepernick and his apparent blackballing from the NFL.

While some may interpret Fangio's words to mean that prejudiced thoughts and actions among players aren't an issue in NFL locker rooms, here's a small, friendly reminder: Racism isn't solely about the outward prejudices we see by way of words. It's about systemic injustices and a lack of racial diversity. Allowing minority candidates the same opportunities that their white cohorts are afforded is a major staple of that.

So, if Fangio doesn't "see racism" in the NFL, maybe he should look a little harder.

UPDATE: Seems like Fangio tried to clarify his stance on Wednesday.

What to read next