While I am a devoted fan of the Baltimore Ravens, I can understand that others may not like our team. I was, therefore, not surprised to see a letter in the City Paper criticizing the team-raining on our victory parade. However, the letter, "Stark Raven Mad" by Larnell Custis Butler, was so factually inaccurate, it demands a reply.
In the letter, she claims that black head coaches of the Colts and Bears were fired after this season, leaving the NFL without a black head coach at any team next season. First of all, the Colts did not fire their head coach, Chuck Pagano (who happens to be white) at the end of the season. Lovie Smith of the Bears and Romeo Crennel of the Chiefs were the two black coaches who were recently let go.
Secondly, there are currently three black head coaches in the NFL. Marvin Lewis, a former defensive coordinator of the Ravens, has been the head coach of the Bengals since 2003. Only Bill Belichick of the Patriots has a longer tenure as a current head coach for a single NFL team. The other two black NFL head coaches are Mike Tomlin of the Steelers and Leslie Frazier of the Vikings. Ron Rivera, the coach of the Panthers, is Hispanic. So there are currently four minority coaches in the NFL. While this number is woefully inadequate for a 32-team league, it is more than zero, as asserted by Ms. Butler.
It was only six years ago that coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith faced each other in Super Bowl 41, leading some to remark that thatwas the first time that two brothers coached against each other in the Super Bowl (not the Harbaugh brothers in Super Bowl 47). Clearly, the state of minority coaches in the NFL is on the decline and worthy of criticism.
But this is a league-wide concern and not specific to the Ravens. The Ravens record in minority affairs has been stellar. Ozzie Newsome is the first black general manager of an NFL team. The Ravens hired former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell after the 2011 season as an assistant coach and promoted him to offensive coordinator when Cam Cameron was let go. Many have attributed the Ravens Super Bowl run to this move. Jonathan Ogden has just become the first Raven inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Many Ravens players have generously given back to Baltimore's black community. Anquan Boldin visited Africa last year and is leading efforts to end poverty in East Africa.
Since the Ravens won the Super Bowl and didn't lose, as Ms. Butler wished, perhaps this is an opportunity to point out positive aspects of the Baltimore Ravens from an Afrocentric, feminist perspective, while noting room for future improvement.