Monday, August 17, 2015

1 comments Marcus Hayes Wants Chip Kelly to Deny He's a Racist

You may have heard ex-Eagles players say that Chip Kelly is racist. Pretty much every bitter ex-Eagle who Kelly has let go this offseason has claimed some form of this accusation. I don't know if Chip Kelly is racist or not, but I do know the mere suggestion he is a racist doesn't mean he needs to call a press conference and dispute this notion. This is where Marcus Hayes and I differ. He thinks Kelly should address the notion he is racist. Kelly needs to disprove the negative, which is not always easy to do. There are other writers who actually care to do research, and try to find out the truth without just assuming Kelly is racist, that have written very clearly about what Kelly's problem with players truly may be. That's no good though. Marcus Hayes wants Kelly to deny the accusations. Prove you aren't racist, Chip! Start counting how many black friends you have. That always works.

AS IT TURNS OUT, it really is about creating a culture; an inclusive culture.
Unless it's on his terms, Chip Kelly doesn't seem interested in that.

Chip Kelly is interested in an inclusive culture. An inclusive culture of his choosing. It may be racist (who knows?), but he's interested in a culture of inclusion around his just has to be the culture of inclusion that he chooses. 

Over the past five months, an astounding amount of energy has been spent trying to disprove the observations of three Eagles who, at the risk of their own ruin, said they believe Chip Kelly has a problem with black men.

I'm not going to preface every sentence I write with this, but I don't know if Chip Kelly is racist. I do know the words of three ex-Eagles may or may not prove this is true. A lot of energy goes into disproving observations of these ex-Eagles because Kelly is having to disprove a negative. Marcus Hayes, prove you aren't cheating on your wife. Two ladies in the office swear you are cheating with a lady from HR. 

Predictably, what each of them said was amplified by the sensitive nature of the subject. Predictably, there was a massive rush to disprove it, and thereby make everyone's life less prickly.

Rightly or wrongly, nobody wants to be called a racist. I write "rightly or wrongly" because even racists don't want to be called racist. It's always called something else by these people who I perceive as racist. Something that softens what they are.

First: Validly or not, at least some of Kelly's players feel marginalized.

Being marginalized because Chip Kelly doesn't think these players fit the culture isn't the same thing as being marginalized because Chip Kelly is a racist. Read Mike Freeman's column on Kelly. It's enlightening. 

Second: Kelly refuses to even acknowledge the issue.

Acknowledging the issue means it is an issue. A control freak like Chip Kelly wants to control the conversation and his having to speak on his racist/non-racist tendencies isn't controlling the conversation.

His responses: If they feel that way, too bad.

Marcus Hayes has to know that people in the position that Chip Kelly is in, as the head coach of an NFL team, can't respond to every criticism of him. Kelly can't stop people from speculating about him or criticizing him. He sees these accusations/insinuations as noise, so he ignores it as long as possible. 

Not a hint of culpability. Not a whiff of empathy.

Think about that.

Again, he doesn't think he's racist, so he's not going to have a hint of culpability or a whiff of empathy. What person would lean back and think, "You know, maybe I am a huge racist..." It takes a lot of introspection that Chip Kelly simply isn't going to engage in during or prior to an NFL season. 

If the CEO of any other high-profile, billion-dollar company repeatedly was linked to racism by three former outstanding employees, all of whom risked being blackballed; and if that employer dismissed it by saying the employees were angry they were displaced; know what you would have?
Donald Trump. 

You mean the guy running for President who is among the leaders for the Republican nomination right now? And also, nearly every CEO of a high-profile, billion-dollar company will have accusations of some form of ageism, sexism, racism, other -ism's directed at either him or his company. It comes with the territory. It doesn't mean these accusations are true and it doesn't mean these accusations are false. It happens to a CEO and his/her company at some point.

If three former players told reporters that coconut water in smoothies upset their stomachs, Kelly would examine the chemical composition of coconuts from each continent.

Examine himself for imperfections?

Apparently, that's a waste of time.

The same guy who stated that Chase Utley is more beloved in Philadelphia because he's white, thereby causing him to get away with more crappy play, as compared to Jimmy Rollins and how he is treated, wants Chip Kelly to do some real introspection and figure out who he is as a person. I'm sure Kelly does know his imperfections, but he also believes these imperfections make him the successful person that he is. Sometimes our greatest flaws have to be managed because these flaws are often a part of why we are successful. So Kelly sees his control freak tendencies as a good and bad thing. Others see racism and others don't. It doesn't mean Kelly needs to address accusations of racism.

Certainly, players in Pittsburgh and Buffalo will ask Brandon Boykin and LeSean McCoy questions about Kelly. Don't be surprised if guys in Seattle get an earful from Cary Williams, or if New England players are enlightened by Bradley Fletcher. 

Later in this column, Marcus Hayes will suggest that Boykin, McCoy and Cary Williams risked their professional career in coming out and stating they believe race plays a part in Chip Kelly getting rid of them. This may be true, but the fact all three of these players found new teams and didn't have trouble finding new teams, leads me to believe the risk to their careers is being exaggerated by Hayes. I don't believe a player will be blackballed for calling Chip Kelly racist. It's the NFL, where absent murder (and if the player is out of jail now...well...) a guy will get a chance to prove he can play football if he has skills.

McCoy, after his trade to the Bills in March, said Kelly rid himself of all of the best black players. Well, with the exception of left tackle Jason Peters, the best black player, that's true.

I choose to believe the Mike Freeman article is correct. It's not a race thing and there are certain players that Chip Kelly simply has trouble relating to. He prefers all control and that is hard to make work in the NFL. Maybe Kelly is slightly racist in the same way a lot of people are unintentionally racist or sexist, but I don't think it's an active plan by Kelly to rid the Eagles of black players.

Kelly's response: McCoy was stung by the trade.

Which, by the way, is something that seems absolutely true. Until the Bills dangled money at McCoy, he wasn't going to play for the Bills. McCoy was stung by the trade by all counts.

Former left tackle Tra Thomas, after a two-year stint on the coaching staff, said Kelly's locker room was populated by players who think Kelly might be racist. Well, after what McCoy and Boykin said, that, too, has been proved true.

Kelly's response: We gave Thomas a chance to coach.

This isn't exactly what Chip Kelly said. Marcus Hayes, again, prefers to exaggerate to prove his point. Kelly said,  

"I didn't really see it, but I heard about it," he said. "I was just disappointed. We gave Tra a great opportunity. He came in on a Bill Walsh minority internship program. Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie was nice enough to keep him on for two years - one on offense, one on defense - [to] see if he could find a job in the NFL. So I hope Tra does find a job in the NFL. We don't have a job open."

That's still pretty cold, of course. Is this coldness due to racism or because Chip Kelly just has trouble relating to other humans? I think there is evidence both ways. 

Boykin sent a carefully worded text message to a black Comcast SportsNet reporter that read, in part: "[Kelly is] uncomfortable around grown men of our culture . . . [Kelly] can't relate and that makes him uncomfortable." Boykin stressed that he and his teammates in the locker room often discussed the atmosphere that Kelly created.

Kelly's response: Boykin was "disappointed" that he was traded.

Except you know, well, I will let Marcus Hayes acknowledge what Kelly said and then dismiss it immediately as not enough. Which, by the way, is how any comments by Chip Kelly would be dismissed if he did publicly comment on whether he was a racist or not. 

That answer changed last week, when Kelly said the repeated assertions did, in fact, bother him . . . but, really, Kelly seemed more annoyed than troubled.

And again, if Kelly spoke further about his feelings on whether he was racist, then he would come off as annoyed and the circle would go unbroken. 

He should be troubled.

He probably is annoyed. He's annoyed because he would prefer to focus on the upcoming season and doesn't consider himself to be a racist. So because he doesn't think he's racist, then these distractions around the team annoy him. 

McCoy, Boykin and Thomas also are former Eagles; a status that, in the Jeffrey Lurie era, carries privilege and inclusion matched by few other franchises.
Each jeopardized that birthright with these comments.

Each jeopardized this birthright except for the fact none of the three were coaching or playing for the Eagles at the time they made the comments. Boykin and McCoy had been traded to other teams, so they were safe to give their opinion at that point. 

So why make them?

The popular and lazy explanation is that they were bitter they were let go.

Another explanation is that this is truly how they perceive Chip Kelly, as a racist. This, of course, doesn't mean their perception is actually true. What may come off to some as racism comes off to another person as simply being a control freak and difficult to talk to. Maybe there is an explanation between "being bitter" and "Chip Kelly is a racist." This doesn't make for a column that gets pageviews of course.

That is illogical. Each had too much to lose.

Not really. Maybe Tra Thomas, but LeSean McCoy and Brandon Boykin really didn't have much to lose. It's not like they played for Chip Kelly at the present time and McCoy had even gotten a brand, new nice contract from the Bills. What would he have to lose by speaking his mind on Kelly? The argument these players had too much to lose would be true if they made these accusations while still affiliated with the Eagles. Then I could understand this argument.

The more sensible explanation: They simply spoke what they believed to be true.

Yes, but what they believe to be true isn't necessarily true. To continue with the Donald Trump comparison, Trump claims to believe what he says is true as well. It doesn't make the stupid-ass things Trump says true. It's possible the perception these Eagles have is caused by groupthink based on the perception that they have of Kelly. They have a right to feel that way, but it doesn't mean Chip Kelly needs to address the fact he isn't a racist. Besides, if Kelly said he wasn't racist, would Marcus Hayes be like, "Oh well, he addressed it. Now I believe him." I don't believe Hayes would say anything like that at all.

Probably not. I have no idea if Kelly is racist or not, but I do know there is evidence that Kelly is just the type of guy who is militant when it comes to "You are with me or you aren't" and that could be coming off as race-related. 

All three were dispatched, on the face of it, with good reason.

Marcus Hayes should now prove he isn't racist. 

McCoy ran both the football and his mouth with little discipline. Thomas was never more than an aspiring assistant with no coaching credentials. 

Well, that explains why Kelly said he gave Thomas a chance and didn't seem sad to see him go.

Boykin is shorter than the cornerback template Kelly wants.

Stop with the arguments rationally explaining why Chip Kelly traded Boykin. Why would a control freak coach choose to want players that fit a specific template he wants? That's not something that would happen. 

Several other players, coaches and scouts, both black and white, have been similarly dispatched.

None has echoed these sentiments; not yet, anyway.

Perhaps they believe Kelly treated them fairly.

Some players have said Kelly treated them fairly. Why doesn't Chip Kelly come out and state whether he treated these players fairly or not? WHAT'S HE AFRAID OF? 

Or, perhaps they understand this sort of talk can ruin them in the NFL.

Ah yes, a conspiracy. Of course. So now the assumption is that the others feel the way Boykin, Thomas and McCoy feel, but they are too afraid to say it out loud? Once the idea Chip Kelly is a virulent racist has been proven, I guess the idea others are afraid to speak up isn't a bad assumption. Chip Kelly is racist and more players would like to say this, but they are afraid to. This is something that is pure speculation being passed off as an argument supporting Hayes' point of view.

As far as we know, most of this angst stems from the Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson incidents and the way Kelly, Lurie and Howie Roseman handled them.

Cooper, a white receiver, was caught on video directing the N-word toward a black security guard in an alcohol-fueled rage during a country music concert in the summer of 2013, Kelly's first season. Cooper took a brief leave from training camp, then rejoined the team.

This move was always going to bring up questions. Letting Cooper stick around after he did this was a questionable decision. I'm not in the Eagles locker room, but I can't imagine there still aren't some long-term repercussions from keeping Cooper around. 

Jackson, a black receiver, enjoyed a career season in 2013 . . . then was cut a few months later. He also was subjected to a smear campaign that, to any sensible observer, was engineered (clumsily) by the team. Meanwhile, Cooper's fine 2013 season earned him a lucrative extension.

I have to admit, I don't know what was up with the whole "DeSean Jackson is involved with a gang" campaign that got him out of Philadelphia. Lost in this is that Jackson also had a lucrative contract with the Eagles and if for whatever reason he isn't buying into Chip Kelly's ideas...

Beyond Boykin's implication that Kelly is not totally colorblind, it should have been equally disturbing that Boykin, in his clarification statements, said that Kelly routinely ignored players:

"There would be times where he just wouldn't talk to people. You would walk down the hallway and he wouldn't talk to you."

Oh my God, no! Chip Kelly wasn't cordial? Forget being a racist or not being a racist, being cordial is expected of a man in Chip Kelly's position. 

This seems bizarrely dysfunctional, at the very least. But it might explain, if not validate, what McCoy and Thomas saw and felt.

Did Kelly only not talk to players who weren't white or he didn't speak to every player on occasion when he ran into them in the hallway? If Kelly only didn't speak to players who weren't white, then the players are validated. If he didn't speak to all players, then this anecdotal evidence doesn't support their contention. 

Consider, too, the "grown men" phrase Boykin used. Boykin was careful to delineate between Kelly's dominion over his college players at Oregon, a powerless group with virtually no recourse against Kelly's whim; vs. "grown men" in the NFL whose futures Kelly has less power to determine.

Marcus Hayes is having it both ways now...or at least he wants to. Marcus wants to say other players don't speak up or the players who did speak up did so despite the fact it could hurt their career. But then when Marcus wants to prove his point about Boykin using the language "grown men" he points out that Kelly has less power to determine the future of an NFL player than he used to. So which is it? Are some players not speaking up for fear Kelly will destroy them if they do or does Kelly not hold this much power over NFL players? 

Fairly or not, he has been painted by three men as a leader who, at best, is insensitive to his environment; at most, as a leader who unfairly leads.

Fairly or not, it's just assumed Chip Kelly is a racist, so he must immediately address and confront any ideas that he is in fact a racist. 

This is stunning, because Kelly's willingness to implement his innovations have cast him as a genius. Moreover, Kelly preaches culture over scheme.

So his preaching of culture is what could have led to him getting rid of these players. They didn't fit his strict culture specifications and so they were gone. Fair? Possibly not. Racist? Possibly, but it's an assumption I would feel better making if there wasn't also evidence given (anonymously) from Eagles players that Kelly is just very, very rigid in what he wants and is dictatorial. You fit in with what he's trying to do or you don't. He comes from college football where coaches are allowed to do that. In the NFL, personality from player is embraced. A dictatorial style is seen as not fitting what these NFL players want. Hence, Chip Kelly is being called a racist, rather than these players admitting to themselves that they simply didn't fit what Kelly wanted. I'm not saying this is true, but it is as much of a possibility as Chip Kelly being racist is a possibility. 

Still, he refuses to adjust, and that allows a malignant culture to fester in his own building.

Actually, that could have been the point of Kelly releasing some of these players. He didn't want a malignant culture to fester, so he traded these players. Right or wrong, he doesn't allow a malignant culture to fester in his building, so he gets rid of players who he doesn't see as a "fit."


Snarf said...

I feel like the crowd that likes to spot things that are "problematic" in the NFL (I.e. This writer, deadspin, etc. ) want to have their proverbial cake and eat it too. On one hand they lament the all that matters is production attitude of the NFL, particularly when it comes to off field behavior. Simultaneously, they jump all over a fairly weak story implying potential racism on the part of chip kelly. I think the former is far more accurate, that players who can play will get a chance regardless of race or past behavior (until that behavior affects the team/organization). It just seems odd to me to think NFL front offices could be bastions of racism while simultaneously making a Jameis Winston the number one overall pick. I guess one could argue that this is because players are viewed as commodities, but then that's just creating an impossible to disprove hypothesis, which isn't going to get us anywhere.