NFL | NCAA Football

Jon Embree broke the Unwritten Rule of the Race Card

Four days after Jon Embree was fired as Head Football Coach of the Colorado Buffaloes the country is still buzzing from the ongoing debate about the level of racism involved in hiring decisions in College Football. Embree was named the Buffaloes head coach two years ago, succeeding Dan Hawkins. Embree was only the third CU alumni to head coach the football team and the first in nearly a half century. On Monday he was terminated after compiling a 4-21 record including 1-11 in his final year, the worst year in the history of Colorado Buffaloes football.

Tuesday ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said that he couldn’t defend Embree on his record, but his firing again brings to the spotlight the lack of chances minority coaches have gotten in college football. “The reality of the situation is, let’s take a couple of things into consideration. The man lost by an average of 48-17, didn’t win a home game for the first time in school history since 1920. Those things resonate. It’s hard to make the argument on his behalf, but here’s where he has a very valid point, and it’s something African-American coaches have lamented to me personally over the year”.

Wednesday morning, Embree was a guest of the Evan & Phillips show on Mad Dog Radio on SiriusXM to discuss his firing and the possible role race played into it. Embree suggested that if he were white he would have been given at least an additional year to improve the program like his Caucasian counterparts. Embree also stated that his being a minority would impede his ability to receive a future head coaching position at the collegiate level like some notable names such as Gene Chizik.

As a man of African American and Mexican decent, in addition to being a CU Alumni and father of four, I find Embree’s remarks during his press conference at the University of Colorado and subsequent interviews with the media to be quite disturbing on many levels. First, Jon Embree was hired from the Washington Redskins where he served as the Tight Ends Coach.

That in itself is a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive your first Head Coaching position at a Division I school whose history includes a national championship and alumni that feature many former and current NFL players. He didn’t have to move his way up from coaching Junior College or Division II because the combination of his collegiate and NFL experience, as well as his ties to the University of Colorado enabled him to gain this BIG break.

Embree is indeed a coach who is African American.  Two years ago you would be hard pressed to find many reports if any at all questioning Embree’s credentials to be the head coach at the University of Colorado.  The University of Colorado thought he was qualified to lead their program two years ago and on Monday they fired him because they decided that he wasn’t. This season he coached his team to a 1-11 year.

The problem is that the wins and losses were not black or white, nor were the ridiculous amount of points that the team gave up on a weekly basis, or the embarrassing losses to in state rival Colorado State, or Division II cupcake Sacramento State. The blowout losses that they sustained to USC, Oregon, Stanford, Fresno State and everyone else they played this season were not black or white. Plain and simple, Embree did not do his job and his job was to win games or at the very least field a competitive team. Embree is a football coach that was relieved from his position because the University of Colorado realized that things were not going to improve next year or ANY year for that matter under Embree as head coach.

What is with the illusion that if you are hired as a head coach you are entitled to coach for 3-5 years or the duration of your contract? There is no such thing as being untouchable…especially in these high-profile coaching positions. Then to have a sour-grapes attitude after the fact by attempting to justify your lack of results and poor performance on the University, racism and the inability to compete without cheating is of very poor taste.

Shame on you Jon Embree as  African American man.  Using the same reasoning would we expect that Romeo Crennell would accuse the Kansas City Chiefs of being racist if they decided to fire him at the end of this NFL season? Could he point the finger at only being afforded one full season, two horrible QBs, a general manager with questionable personnel decisions, injuries, lack of fan support and a tough schedule as reasons why he should have another year? Or would Crennell point the finger and say Norv Turner would have had more time given to him to do the same remedial job?

As a minority the unwritten rule taught to us by our parents and families is very clear: Do not use the race card in an attempt to justify poor performance or behavior. As a minority it should be understood that you need to perform at a level above your Caucasian counterparts and that margin for error may be slim to none, especially in cases where you are the first or one of the few fortunate minorities to have the opportunity to break ground in a new position and/or field.  I am not saying that life is fair but everyone needs to play the hand they are dealt with rather than wasting energy creating excuses.

Playing the race card plays into the stereotypes those others who are racist claim that minorities fall into. In addition continuing to play the race card ruins it for future candidates and generations of people who are seeking for a fair opportunity free of racial bias. What incentive is there for another University to hire Jon Embree as the head coach if he is going to go on a tirade accusing his superiors of racism or incompetence?

Or the incentive for a University to hire a minority head coach at all if they could point to Embree who actually had close ties to the University, yet still decided to burn bridges afterwards in an unprofessional manner? Embree may have inexplicably made it more difficult for minorities to obtain prestigious coaching positions in the college ranks because whether it’s fair or not, future decision makers at these Universities may categorize all potential minority candidates in the same category as the “Angry Black Man”, stereotype that Embree played into. Most importantly and unfortunately incidents like this one that are magnified by the media tell younger generations that it is ok and acceptable to use the race card and accuse others of discrimination as a crutch and tool to manipulate those that we interact and work with.

 Roberto Padilla is a Sports Talk Radio personality for Denver’s Mile High Sports Radio 1510 AM/93.7 FM  and  Internet Sports Station

You can reach Roberto by:

Email at [email protected] or Twitter @RobertoDenver

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