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Ben Watson's view on race during the draft

this is a discussion within the NFL Community Forum; https://theundefeated.com/features/b...d-that-change/ Benjamin Watson: ĎAfter what we saw during the draft, we need that changeí The former NFL tight end offers his perspective on the leagueís diversity issue While watching the NFL draft last week, many of the leagueís current and ...

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Old 04-29-2020, 09:08 AM   #1
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Ben Watson's view on race during the draft

https://theundefeated.com/features/b...d-that-change/

Benjamin Watson: ĎAfter what we saw during the draft, we need that changeí
The former NFL tight end offers his perspective on the leagueís diversity issue

While watching the NFL draft last week, many of the leagueís current and former African American executives, coaches and players privately expressed frustration about what unfolded. In phone calls and text messages among themselves, they reexamined the NFLís glaring lack of diversity in decision-making roles as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in general managers and head coaches ó jobs overwhelmingly occupied by white men ó selecting players from their homes.

With 30 of the 32 first-round picks being players of color, including 29 black players, the optics reinforced commissioner Roger Goodellís view that the league, which has an on-field workforce thatís about 70% black, is ďnot where we want to beĒ with inclusive hiring at the highest levels of football operations.

Benjamin Watson, a former first-round pick who spent 16 years playing tight end in the NFL and is a frequent commentator on social issues, was well aware of the leagueís diversity problem in management before the draft. Watching the three-day event on television, however, was unsettling for Watson, and the jarring experience only strengthened his belief that the NFL must do more to address its lack of inclusion.

I wasnít sure, under these circumstances, how the draft would be. But I enjoyed seeing that side of it. I enjoyed seeing families together. Even when the guys were being selected, and they couldnít have huge parties [because of local and state social distancing guidelines], just to see those intimate moments, I thought that was a really cool dynamic. And even on the side of the men making the picks, the general managers and the coaches making the picks, my reaction was that it was great, because fans were getting to see a side of it that they really donít get to see. But then it started to kind of hit me.

Iím seeing all these guys get picked. We know that the league is 70% black. We know that thereís only four head coaches [of color]. Every single year, we wonder if there are going to be more black head coaches hired. And, also, we always talk about the front offices. Obviously, the coaching is one part of it. But the other part of it is the decision-making. That comes from the owners, the team presidents and the general managers. And, in a regular draft situation, we really donít get to see that like we saw it in this draft.

Youíre looking at these split screens, and you have the general managers on one side and the [head] coaches on the other side, and team after team after team, thereíre white faces. And then team after team after team, theyíre selecting black players. All the stuff that we talk about, all the stuff that we wonder about, we got to see a visual of it. It was a visual like weíve never seen before. And so for me, it just reminded me of the conversations that we have [about the lack of diversity], and proved that weíre not crazy for saying these things.

The issue is not the competence of those who are in the positions. We always want people of competence to be running organizations. We want people who deserve to be there. What I saw, though, was proof that for many prospective black general managers, or team presidents or, obviously, owners, theyíre not privy to that pipeline. The relationships that put these people in place, theyíre not privy to. Just watching it over and over and over again, it really drove it home.

I can remember so many times in training camp where the nephew, or the friend of a nephew of the general manager, got to hang around the team and be a ball boy or that sort of a thing. Thatís where those relationships start. Thatís where the pipeline starts. And those sorts of relationships, which any of us would use if we could, get people in the door. So what I kept seeing [during the draft] was not that these people were necessarily incompetent or shouldnít be there, but that others who could be just as competent or just as good, who donít have those relationships because of the color of their skin, arenít able to get into those rooms.

It was just a reminder, a strong visual reminder, of who makes the decisions in the league. The draft laid it bare to see in a way we really havenít before. We see how the children and the nephews and the nieces of these people start out in a better position to get those jobs to control the league over people, competent people, who donít have the same skin color. Now, there can be no dispute of what weíve been saying. We all saw it over and over and over again. There can be no dispute about the need to have more black men and women in these positions making decisions for these teams.

A lot of times youíll hear [white] people say they donít want to hear about this. Theyíll ask you: ĎWhy do you have to talk about race?í Race is the context by how we live in this country. It always has been. And it will be for a long time. That can be detrimental, or it can be something that we use to understand where we are and how we need to get better. So thereís nothing wrong with talking about it. Thatís the reality of the situation.

There was a time when black players werenít allowed to play. Then there was a time when they could only play certain positions. When my father played in college, he couldnít play middle linebacker. He couldnít play center. And he definitely couldnít play quarterback. Thatís because those who were in leadership and ownership, those who were making decisions, wanted to give that responsibility of being a play-caller of the offensive line, the quarterback or the play-caller on defense [middle linebacker] to somebody who they felt they could trust. Many times, that trust comes down to one thing: Who looks like me? Who can I relate to?

Thatís all well and good, but for a lot of people, for us, weíre not going to look like those people [in power]. We kept seeing that in the draft. Itís not that a [white] coach doesnít deserve his job. And whenever we bring this up, thatís what certain people think. And thatís not what weíre saying, although that could be true in some situations. But thatís not the point. The point is that it takes intentional, planned action to break out of the comfort zones that humans have. Thatís what we need now more than ever. After what we saw during the draft, we need that change.


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Old 04-29-2020, 09:17 AM   #2
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Re: Ben Watson's view on race during the draft

I need to talk about this so that I can hopefully understand his perspective as well as all who agree here.

Is this really a critical issue in today's NFL? Am I wrong for disagreeing here? I respect Ben Watson and his views, I do. Even if he'd never played a down for the Saints, he's bright and a leader in the community.

However, this feels like an overreaction and slightly divisive.

He's essentially saying white coaches deserve their jobs (earned). Yet we must take action to ensure less white coaches have their jobs? Why? So we can feel better about the optics of the NFL?

And why is this directed at white people? He doesn't mention a single other race. What about all the other races who are fans, coaches and players of the NFL who don't care about race?

I'm willing to bet 95% of fans want to see their team win and don't give a damn what color their coach or player or fan next to them is. As long as the game is FAIR.

What Ben seems to be advocating for is not really fair at all.

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Old 04-29-2020, 11:09 PM   #3
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Re: Ben Watson's view on race during the draft

Originally Posted by saintsfan1976 View Post
I need to talk about this so that I can hopefully understand his perspective as well as all who agree here.

Is this really a critical issue in today's NFL? Am I wrong for disagreeing here? I respect Ben Watson and his views, I do. Even if he'd never played a down for the Saints, he's bright and a leader in the community.

However, this feels like an overreaction and slightly divisive.

He's essentially saying white coaches deserve their jobs (earned). Yet we must take action to ensure less white coaches have their jobs? Why? So we can feel better about the optics of the NFL?

And why is this directed at white people? He doesn't mention a single other race. What about all the other races who are fans, coaches and players of the NFL who don't care about race?

I'm willing to bet 95% of fans want to see their team win and don't give a damn what color their coach or player or fan next to them is. As long as the game is FAIR.

What Ben seems to be advocating for is not really fair at all.
Iím only chiming in out of respect for your request.

Yes, I agree with him that there is an under representation of Black people in coaching and the front office. However, this does not surprise me in the least. The trend holds steady in practically all facets of society. Personally, Iím tired of beating a dead horse. White men started the league. White men own the teams. White men run the league. Perhaps Watson is optimistic and thinks given time we will see progress.

If itís that important then the 70% can team up with the Black upperclass and start a new league. I really donít even care though bruh. Our community has so much more important **** to worry about then football. I wrote a long analysis about this on Facebook maybe 5 years ago. I had statistics and Harvard studies to back me up and those on the opposite side of the fence just donít care.

If I could talk to Watson thatís simply what Iíd tell him: if the people youíre trying to persuade really gave a **** you wouldnít have to convince them. These owners donít give a damn and non-Black fans donít care either. It is what is. Rooney Rule didnít do ****.
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"If we don't make earnest moves toward real solutions, then each day we move one day closer to revolution and anarchy in this country. This is the sad, and yet potentially joyous, state of America.Ē - Louis Farrakhan
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Old 04-30-2020, 05:28 AM   #4
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Re: Ben Watson's view on race during the draft

"Is this really a critical issue in today's NFL? Am I wrong for disagreeing here? I respect Ben Watson and his views, I do. Even if he'd never played a down for the Saints, he's bright and a leader in the community.

However, this feels like an overreaction and slightly divisive."


I agree with you.

There is really no need for this nonsense to be brought up by Watson. I had respect for him a few years ago. But it seems that each time he makes some statement, he becomes increasingly divisive. He tries to hide his apparent problem with white people under the guise of being "concerned" about "equality", but his ability to hide his true colors on the matter has eroded to the point that he stops just barely short of straight up saying that there are too many white people in the NFL.

If I thought, for one second, that there was any validity behind the idea that black people are being deliberately avoided in these jobs, I could get behind Ben on this subject. There was a time, decades ago, when this was an actual problem. And you had NO black people in positions of authority, either in sports, or anything else, except for very rare cases.

But now, we see black people in all sorts of positions we never would have saw 50 years ago. Are they still outnumbered? Yes. Why? One reason is obviously because they make up only about 13% of the population. There is a significantly smaller base to choose from. Another reason, which veers into the politically incorrect area, but cannot be denied, is that the black community, as a whole, is less educated. And this has nothing to do with one "race" having superior learning skills over another. It has to do with the alarming amount of fatherless homes among blacks (over 70%, last I saw), and kids growing up in poverty or gang-life as a result. And the Democratic party, of which, the vast majority of blacks subscribe to, has fed them the lie that white people are holding them down, as they continue to encourage poor decisions and illegitimacy by showering welfare benefits into these communities. They took away incentive to earn, by introducing affirmative action, forcing businesses and schools to accept black people, whether they are qualified or not, to maintain a quota. Which, in my opinion, is disrespectful toward black people and assumes that they aren't capable on their own, and has actually lead to, as I stated before, disincentivizing many blacks from trying harder to make something of themselves. And this sort of cherry picking, by affirmative action, does nothing to ease any racial tension that still exists.

So to get back around to football, we have seen, time and again, that teams have shown no unwillingness to hire black people, if they are qualified for the job. But how many of these football players, the overwhelming majority of which are black, have the education to take over an executive role of any kind when their playing career is over? I realize there are going to be people who read this post (if they have the patience) who will accuse me of being all sorts of racist. The numbers back up my statements. There is a big problem in the black community, but unlike 150 years ago, much of their problems today are self-inflicted. And the people they vote for, promise them the moon, and leave them for dead.

This is what black folks should be be concerned about. Instead, people like Ben Watson point the finger at white people for not hiring more black people, on the basis of evening out the colors. Isn't that the epitome of racism? Asking for or expecting special treatment, based on the color of your skin? Before all of this liberal garbage started treating black people like babies with all of their policies, the black community had pride. There was very little in the way of broken homes and illegitimacy. Because they knew they had to earn everything. And that's the way it's supposed to be. The racial divide was already closing after MLK. Democrats have fought for 50 years to keep that divide alive.

My message to Watson, and all who think like him, is let's keep our eyes on what the real problems are and hold the policy makers who are truly behind it accountable. And if we have a personal failure, let's point the finger at ourselves, not at anyone else. Complaining that your skin color is underrepresented, with zero examination as to why that might be, does not change minds or mend fences. It makes everything worse.
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If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, the NFL would fine and suspend me.
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Old 04-30-2020, 01:45 PM   #5
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Re: Ben Watson's view on race during the draft

Originally Posted by rezburna View Post
Iím only chiming in out of respect for your request.

Yes, I agree with him that there is an under representation of Black people in coaching and the front office. However, this does not surprise me in the least. The trend holds steady in practically all facets of society. Personally, Iím tired of beating a dead horse. White men started the league. White men own the teams. White men run the league. Perhaps Watson is optimistic and thinks given time we will see progress.

If itís that important then the 70% can team up with the Black upperclass and start a new league. I really donít even care though bruh. Our community has so much more important **** to worry about then football. I wrote a long analysis about this on Facebook maybe 5 years ago. I had statistics and Harvard studies to back me up and those on the opposite side of the fence just donít care.

If I could talk to Watson thatís simply what Iíd tell him: if the people youíre trying to persuade really gave a **** you wouldnít have to convince them. These owners donít give a damn and non-Black fans donít care either. It is what is. Rooney Rule didnít do ****.
I'd like to read that post if you have it.
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