Hue Jackson is one of the top NFL offensive minds. In a league thirsty for innovative game planning, he unfathomably went from leading the Raiders to an 8-8 season in 2011 to coaching the Bengal’s secondary last season. Go figure.
There’s no explaining why Jackson’s job options are as thin as Kerry Washington, considering in his two seasons with the Raiders, the last as HC, he revamped an offense that ranked 31st in the NFL and transformed it into a unit that cracked the top 10 in total yardage in ’10 and ’11.
Jackson was once one of the shining minority coaching candidates around. He spit that tough, confident football lingo and preached a philosophy of “bullying” other teams to victory in the mold of Al Davis’ old school Raiders. Then came the fateful press conference in ’12, during which Jackson basically said the organization was a joke, challenged ownership and vowed to take more control moving forward. Jackson’s overzealousness didn’t sit well with new owner Mark Davis. About a week later, GM Reggie McKenzie was hired and Jackson was fired. He hasn’t sniffed a HC job since.
According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, Jackson is perceived as a self-centered opportunist with an admittedly brash demeanor. He denies being selfish, but is unapologetic about the remaining perception.
“Some people run from confrontation. I don’t run from confrontation. I never have,” Jackson told SI. “Some people want you to cower, and there is a time for all of that. But if you ask me something I’m going to tell you. Everybody is not for everybody. I’m very vocal with my players, I’m very confident in what I’m able to do, and sometimes people take that wrong. But I can’t worry about what the next man is thinking.”
The article goes on to infer that Jackson’s smug ambition threatens the job security of lesser-skilled HCs and that’s why he can’t get an OC job either. It has a “stay in ya place” undertone that makes me uncomfortable.
“Sometimes these things are about comfort hires,” added one anonymous NFL exec. “It’s hard to hire a very confident individual...head coaches are going to be a little cautious because they feel he might threaten their position. You have some who don’t hire someone who’s more qualified and might take their job and hurt their credibility.”
Almost 1/3 of the NFL has former HCs on their staff, so that theory doesn’t hold weight. It’s also unfathomable that a guy who has risen to HC is so insecure as to hurt his chances of winning by hiring an inferior, more docile coordinator. Could just be that corporate America has a problem with outspoken, cocky black dudes in positions of power—unless, of course, they are rappers, comedians or basketball players.
No minorities were hired among the league’s new head coaches and front-office openings this offseason, and the number of black NFL HCs has decreased to three, prompting the FPA to call for an expansion of the Rooney Rule.
Jim Caldwell is the lone black OC and recently helped Ravens QB Joe Flacco have the run of his life with 11 TDs and 0 picks en route to a Super Bowl. You’d think Caldwell’s success would bode well for guys like Jackson, but that hasn’t been the case. It seems certain league big-wigs feel Jackson needs to calm down and kiss some more rings before he gets a job better than the running backs gig he’ll be handling for Marvin Lewis this season.
This isn’t necessarily a race issue. It’s more of a “know your place” issue, and it reeks of double standard.
It’s hard to respect the NFL’s reasoning for the lack of minority HCs and OCs when brilliant, energetic leaders of men like Jackson can’t get a gig and front office phonies are grasping for straws with excuses like he’s too confident, or too nice wit’ it. That’s the kind of outback, deep-south, 1950s sucker talk that makes my black ass mad. Maybe Jackson does need an attitude adjustment, but freezing him out when other guys are allowed to freely express themselves is just foolsball, not football.