Straight No Chaser: Negro Whisperers

By Desi Cortez
Updated: February 18, 2008

DENVER — Good day, Mr. Francis,

As communications director for the NFL Players Association, I’ve got a question I’d like to lay on your table, if you’ve a spare moment? Mr Francis, do you believe in something called a Negro Whisperer…..?

I hear it’s a White dude, blessed with the ability to talk to, and understand Black people, which gives them an advantage in certain situations. One such as instructing, directing…. coaching Black folks. As a owner of a professional team in the NBA or NFL, it is consider an advantage if you have coaches on your staff, who are recognized as legitimate Negro Whisperers.

Logically, right, this leaves me to ponder if, behind closed doors, NFL owners refer to guys like Jim Mora Jr. and Jim Zorn as “Negro Whisperers?” White coaches, with some innate, or maybe even acquired ability to…. talk to the Afro-American players — who by the way, constitute well over half of all players in the league.

What else could explain how Jim Zorn is deemed better able to communicate and motivate young Black men than say Mike Singletary, Jim Caldwell or Emmitt Thomas?

What else can explain how Jim Fassell continues to be on every owners “short list.” How can that be? Who did Bill Parcells hire? And think, Little lord Snyder was bringing in coordinators from the Canadian league. That was a slap in the face of a few….

Tell me Mr. Francis, it must be something like Dr. Doolittle, right? How many caucasian coaches in the NFL have some unique ability to “talk to the animals?” Do the owners really believe they’re hiring modern day Tarzans’ — white men who grew up rubbing elbows with Niggras’, understanding the Black man, able to actually decipher E-Jive-Bonics?

Able to communicate at our primitive level. Able to break-down the complicated offense — so players can not think, but just react, like animals.

Sure Mr. Francis, this all sounds racist and far-fetched, but there’s got to be some reason why NFL ownership, in a very passive ,yet aggressive manner, seems to actively exclude Black men from their head coaching ranks.

Men, who on paper appear to be more qualified, if not over-qualified than their caucasian counter-parts. It constantly comes down to intangible assets, vague, abstract, ethereal gut-feelings and inclinations. Good ol’ boys and fatcats — just by happen-chance, hardly ever finding a good one?

But, if it’s based on background, Zorn and Singletary were both players. One a hall-of-famer, the other, an after-thought. Neither a coordinator. Morra’s not even in the league.

Mr. Francis, am I to believe Zorn grew up like Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk? Or, at some early age Mora had blood transfusion with a Black child, and since – he’s been able to communicate with Black folks?

Or, and I think I’m on the money here, relating to and communicating with the “help” is not very important, just get them boys to whup-ass…

I believe what business philosophy NFL owners are applying here – the same as the mind-set used in the Southern Plantation owner — these wealthy traders are looking for a certain type of head coach, over-seer, i.e. crackers; men who crack-the-whip in order to motivate and mobilize his 7 million-dollar slaves.

While the press is always waiting to anoint some supposed Geniuses like the “Clean-up man” in Tampa, Shanahan here in the Mile Hi- Metropolis, Holmgren in the city where the sky never stops crying, or, young brilliant “golden boys” like the head coaches in Oak-town and St. Louis.

These are your three stereotypical field generals which are most -prized, sought out, and coveted by the predominantly White fan base, media, and owners.

I’d take Dungy over all of them. I’ve hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, many a Grand Canyon Jackass passed me, going down, coming up, I know what one looks like. Dungy is that type of man, steady, ready, smart and determined.

No doubt about it, between ignoring the X and O abilities of Black coaches, and treating Black players as mindless chess pieces — too blinded by the bling to object to the disrespectful treatment, (which is pretty accurate) both attitudes are insulting…. but prevalent throught- the NFL.

Beyond NFL owners, the press and the fans are just not comfortable with Blacks operating half-a-billion dollar enterprises. Regardless what a Afro-American coaches credentials are, hardly ever is he deemed knowledgeable, capable and qualified to break that barrier, to surpass the Job description.

Mr. Francis, it pains me to read my fellow Afro-American word-smiths, gallantly attempting to drag this injustice onto the front burner, but to no avail. Sports writers, entrenched within the brick and mortar media establishment — refuse to join our chorus line and point out the clear prejudice.

With that, I don’t want to waste time pointing out the obvious discrimination taking place. Instead, I think we all can agree upon the motivation for such exclusionary business acts – this is America, and we’re witnessing a Last Stand of sorts.

Everywhere, from politics to public education to sports — angry white guys are doing all they can — to hang onto ill-gotten clout, influence and power in the face of equality and fairness.

I’d rather explore what the consequences and repercussions ought to be for this type of blatant favoritism.

First and foremost, the Afro-American players in the NFL are in dire need of an early morning wake- your-ass-up-call. Can you do that Mr. Francis? Somebody needs to inform these wealthy pawns, they are just that – instruments, living, breathing, yet non-thinking unenlightened tools, utilized in order to put billions in the pockets of the owners… nevertheless, their owners disrespect them, and the Afro-American fan base.


By basically saying, with their deeds “Boy, allowing you into the locker-room was traumatic, permitting you to play quarterback is as difficult as passing Idaho potato-size kidney stones, but to let you sit in the Captain’s chair, hand over the whip and chair to Mike Singletary — that’s just a little too much to ask son…

Black players should utilize their numbers, their domination of the game — as leverage, a labor negotiation tool. If as Black men, we’re deemed not mentally capable of running a NFL team, then we’re logically not willing to run for first downs and touchdowns for the NFL.

No representation in the front office, no participation on the field of play. Let Goodell go find some rookies from BYU, Montana State, Liberty U or Oral Roberts University to pack Arrowhead Stadium, fill the seats, generate millions.

Mr. Francis, it’s not complicated. Instead, this is economics 101. Labor stoppage.

Damn, I forgot – most of the Black players in the league…. didn’t take that class, let-along Political Science or History. Their parents, coaches, counselors and professors failed them, by doing them a favor.

Let them skip school, K-12 for some, to focus on the physical skills. Most of these brothers don’t have a clue about the power, and changes they could make, and should make with it, if they had the will.

But hell, I can hope… Imagine a day in the NFL without Black players.

Mr. Francis, I understand this proposal can be likened to the field slave trying to convince the well feed, sleeping in the attic house Negro… to runaway, or, in this instance, at least speak up, protest, boycott. Life is too easy to rock-the-boat, rile the anger of the boss-man.

But if change is ever going to come about, beyond token gestures — six Afro-Americans, out of 32 head coaches — it will be because Black players demanded it, not because old white guys decided to give it to you.

Good day, Desi Cortez.