The Los Angeles Rams filled their vacancy at head coach with the hiring of Sean McVay, who now becomes the youngest head coach in NFL history at the age of just 30. That alone ignited a number of hot takes and opinions about the hiring decision by the Rams, and when we are talking about hot takes that means we can only go so far without hearing from Stephen A. Smith of ESPN’s First Take.
And yes, Smith had some reaction to the Rams coaching hire.
Take it away, Stephen A…
“It rubs me the wrong way, because, I know [Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin] got the job when he was 34-years old, but by and large, you see these opportunities, you know there is no way in hell an African-American is going to get an opportunity like this, it’s just something that doesn’t really, really happen very often.
And a lot of white guys ain’t getting an opportunity like this, so it just reeks of who you know, who you are comfortable with, how you were able to ingratiate yourself with them, as opposed to your legit qualifications. I gotta question about that, particularly when you are asking a head coach to be a leader of men, and some would argue whether a 30-year old is man enough at that particular junction, just based on birth certificate alone, and whether they are qualified to be leaders of men …”
The racial aspect of the NFL coaching circle has been well publicized over the years, and Smith has been there to sound off on the subject at almost every opportunity as well. It is an issue, because the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule to address it. What is unknown, however, is exactly how effective the Rooney Rule is when it comes to hiring coaches. There is a feeling that some NFL franchises will bringing an African-American coaching candidate merely to satisfy the Rooney Rule before ultimately hiring a coach they feel they want the whole time.
But Smith is right in saying that getting a coaching opportunity is often based on your relationships and who you know. In all honesty, there are a ton of jobs and professions that operate that way as well. NFL coaching is not all that different in that regard.
That said, it’s not exactly as though McVay is inexperienced in the coaching game. McVay has been an NFL assistant since 2008 as a wide receivers coach in Tampa, a tight ends coach in Washington and has been the offensive coordinator for the past three years for the Redskins. So questioning the Rams hiring McVay may be fair to a point as he has never been a head coach before, but his body of work suggests he is certainly qualified for consideration regardless of his race.