In the middle of a controversy started by a lawsuit filed by now former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores Lawsuit, his former employer, The Miami Dolphins, hired a largely unknown man named Mike McDaniel, then immediately threw out that he was “biracial” when Flores complained that black folks were not getting the chance to be NFL Head Coaches. But rather than do actual journalism work (thus leave it to us bloggers) NFL reporters would rather take the Dolphins’ cheese and just echo the idea that Mike McDaniel is biracial and then blast anyone who says he looks white. On Black History Month, it’s time to stop this nutso take and pour in the reality of black life in America.
First, Dolphins New Head Coach Mike McDaniel does look white. Second, there’s scant information about who his father is and his blackness (for those who say he’s black). Third, from movies like Spike Lee’s School Daze of 1984 to Carol Black’s Soul Man of 1986, starring C. Thomas Howell, and personalities like Rachel Dolezal, who said she was a black woman even though her parents were white, the topic of “passing as white or black” is one that’s common in the black community in America.
Its’ relevance in this matter of Mike McDaniel and blackness can’t be underscored simply because of the weird timing of the Dolphins hire: it comes just days after the filing of Coach Flores’ lawsuit, in the middle of yet another NFL Off Season where black head coach hirings are few in a league with 70 percent of its players black, and in case you did not notice, all of this is happening smack in the middle of Black History Month 2022.
For this blogger, the real question is why would the Miami Dolphins hire a man who’s not obviously black, has a light resume with one year as the San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator, and then push the “biracial” tag as if it’s some kind of result of a search engine keyword study done in the middle of a lawsuit battle?
The Backdrop: Brian Flores Lawsuit Claims Racism In NFL Stops Black From Getting Head Coaching Jobs
To get the proper look at this matter of Mike McDaniel and his blackness, we have to take a brief look at the Brian Flores Lawsuit. This is how it starts, according to a copy of the actual filing obtained by ZENNIE62MEDIA’s access to court records:
As this Class Action Complaint is filed on the first day of Black History Month, we honor the brave leaders that fought so hard to help break down racial barriers of injustice. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson and Mamie Till, to name only a few. Unfortunately, however, there is so much more to be done. While racial barriers have been eroded in many areas, Defendant the National Football League (“NFL” or the “League”) lives in a time of the past. As described throughout this Class Action Complaint, the NFL remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers. Over the years, the NFL and its 32-member organizations (the “Teams”) have been given every chance to do the right thing. Rules have been implemented, promises made—but nothing has changed. In fact, the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL’s disingenuous commitment to social equity.
The “Rooney Rule”, installed 20 years ago now, was supposed to stop the habit NFL teams have of skipping over obviously qualified black candidates. Now, as this is written, the NFL still has only one black head coach, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That comes in an environment where 70 percent of the NFL player ranks are represented by black men, leading to comparisons with America’s history of Black Slavery. One would think that the best way for the NFL and the Miami Dolphins to deal with the problem would be to hire black head coaches, but instead of that happening, Doug Pederson was named the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and continuing a string of white coach hires by NFL teams in 2022. While some point to his resume’s Super Bowl win as Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach, his competitor, Byron Leftwich, also has a Super Bowl win as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator, and let’s not forget, he coached Tom Brady, the Greatest of All Time, NFL QB. That, alone, should net Coach Leftwich a head coaching job, just as was the case with his white counterparts like Adam Gase and Josh McDaniels, but just because Byron Leftwich is black we get ridiculous excuses.
And now, we have another round of waiting to see if Kansas City Chief’s Offensive Coordinator Eric Bienemy will get a head coaching nod. Meanwhile internet trolls like to bring up his collegiate past as if Eric Bienemy did anything wrong. The fact is, Coach Bienemy and former Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden had one thing in common: both were arrested for DUIs in their past. The difference is the overwhelmingly white sports media likes to trot out the negative about Bienemy but not about Gruden. I’ll never forget when Jon got his DUI, and that was during his first year as the Oakland Raiders Head Coach in 1998. That never stopped Jon from getting the NFL Monday Night Football gig, or the Tampa Bay Bucs job, or his second chance with the Raiders. What helped him? Being a white blonde guy in America. And I like Jon a lot, to this day, but facts are facts. Considering the true history of many a white head coach, Eric Bienemy should have been the helmer somewhere, by now. But, because he’s black and the media’s mostly white, he’s still waiting for his chance while some troll posts that he never called plays in Kansas City, when everyone knows he did. That is the environment behind the event of Mike McDaniels being named the Dolphins Head Coach, and receiving the “bi-racial” then black tag. It underscores the action of tossing in the literal question mark of a head coaching candidate in Mike McDaniel in the case of the Miami Dolphins and the Brian Flores Lawsuit.
Mike McDaniels Is Called Biracial As Dolphins New Head Coach, And No Remarks About His Resume
The Miami Dolphins started this controversy by choosing to trot out the term “biracial” rather than words like “talented” in describing Mike McDaniel. Then, the word “black” started to replace “biracial” in describing the Dolphins new boss. All of this covers up the fact that he’s got a light resume: one year as Niners Offensive Coordinator, four years as running backs coach, stints with several NFL teams in lower coaching positions. But no experience as a signal caller or evidence of any truly innovative scheme contribution that can be said to have changed the NFL. What Mike McDaniel has done is be elevated by following his San Francisco boss Mike Shanahan. He’s also managed to curry favor with a fair number of NFL sports writers. As a result, Mike McDaniel has a fair share of positive press givers, ready with the supportive tweet. All well and good, but it also serves to cause the obvious question: why Mike McDaniel and is he black?
The latter part of the question was actually installed by ESPN’s Jenna Laine, and when she attacked me on Twitter with this tweet:
Did you just say that Mike McDaniel isn’t Black??? And what does him being from Aurora, Colorado have to do with anything? He’s not responsible for what police do there. And he’s been coaching longer than Sean McVay.
And for the record, I said, yes, that Mike McDaniel isn’t Black. And the fact that Jenna Laine, a noted and televised ESPN reporter, would chime in and tag me out of the blue, and then tweet that (and I thought we were friends, but I guess not), is notable. I have no evidence that Mike McDaniel is black, he does not look black, and from the perspective of one who knows how it feels to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I have the right to ask who Mike McDaniel is. It’s sad that some of the people who would blast Rachel Dolezal for passing as black, seem to have no problem helping Mike McDaniel pass as black. But, is Mike McDaniel black? Deadspin assumed he was a white guy because he looks white, and then showed how it’s governed by a racist mob when it failed to do any follow-up to defend itself. A good black media company would never make that error. And so we continue.
This is from an African American man named Andrew Hawkins who calls himself “Hawk” on Twitter. He says the photo above is from Mike McDaniel and is his parents wedding photo. The man who is his father is in the middle and has big hair. The other people in the photo are not identified at all. So, it raises more questions, and because of this close-up:
Sorry, but that is the face of a man who looks, at best, half-black. If that’s the case, then Mike McDaniel is at best one-quarter black. I can make the claim that Mike McDaniel was never stopped in a neighborhood for walking, driving, or working while black, and come out correct. To put Mike McDaniel out as some representative for people who experience real injustice because they have brown skin and nappy hair is completely atrocious and an affront to the many who have suffered because of being black.
The Miami Dolphins Hired Mike McDaniel To Prove A Point About Race And it Backfired
In closing, a reminder: in any complex system, look for the simple drivers of that system – the main variables that control it. In the complex system that is the discussion of Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel, I come back to one fact: he was introduced as “biracial” and then some in the media called him “black” in the middle of a legal firestorm over discrimination against black coaches in the NFL, and during Black History Month.
For those who say Mike McDaniel is black, let’s see him get up and sing James Brown’s “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud”:
You and I both know that’s not happening. And it underscores another point: it should be just fine for someone to say they’re proud to be black, and just as someone Italian can say they’re proud to be Italian.
I had a high school teacher in Oakland named John Rizzo, at Skyline High School, who would do that. This was 1978 and I was in his creative writing class with friends like Ann Berg and Corrine Korich. Anyway, Mr. Rizzo would constantly say “I’m Italian” as if he were making a proclamation of his intent to conquer the World. Mr. Rizzo did not do this to be racist, he did it because it was his way of saying he loved his culture in America. And why not: he drove a cool Alfa Romeo, wore nice clothes, and was a very good and caring teacher, and a good friend. John Rizzo was a good man. It should be just fine for anyone black to be able to do the same thing. There was no one else Italian around when Mr. Rizzo made his statement, he just did it. In the same way, a black person should be able to say “I’m Black” in a room full of white people, and be celebrated for it.
Instead, we get people hiding and trying to pretend racism doesn’t exist, all the while proving that it does.
In the Mike McDaniel case, all of that is the fault of the Dolphins, primarily, and its insulting to black Americans and the to struggle. I think about Emmitt Till and how he was beaten to death at 15 by white men for something he did not do: flirt with a white woman – which should be OK to do and expected for a teenage boy. In a way, the Dolphins action is a slap in the face to all in the Civil Rights Movement, and those who paid the price, like Emmitt Till. If the movie Soul Man didn’t go down well with black America, why would anyone think an actual attempt to bring the movie to reality would be a good idea? Now, a man who has a scant resume and, let’s face it, does look white, is saddled with having to prove he’s worthy of the job he was given.
In that way, Mike McDaniel might as well be black.