By Chuck Hobbs

When the NFL froze out Colin Kaepernick due to his social justice stances back in 2017, I was among a number of football fans that quickly soured on the League to the point that in the five years since, I haven’t watched a single full game!

Nupes Colin Kaepernick (center) and Eric Reid (r) reminding that Black Lives Matter in 2016…

Not one!

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While Kaepernick was able to settle a lawsuit and reportedly is working on a comeback, should I ever truly decide to reignite interest in an NFL team, which I am considering, don’t be surprised if you see Ol’ Hobbs supporting the Denver Broncos or the Las Vegas Raiders!

Why?

Well, due to the glass ceilings recently shattered by Billionaire Mellody Hobson and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in becoming minority owners of the Broncos, and Sandra Douglass-Moran being named President of the Raiders, I am scouring the internet for t-shirts or hats to show some love to the “Sistas” in charge, and the “Brothas” coaching, in management, and on the playing fields.

Clockwise: Mellody Hobson, Sandra Douglass-Moran, and Condoleeza Rice

First, that the Raiders named Douglass- Moran president comes as little surprise because the franchise that the late Al Davis founded has always pushed the envelope on diversity hirings. Art Shell became the first Black head coach of the Raiders in 1989, not long after Tom Flores had already become the first Mexican coach to win Super Bowls (1981, 1983) in NFL history. 

Art Shell, 75, was the first Black coach of the then L.A. Raiders…

Second, when Rob Walton (Wal-Mart family) paid $4.65 billion to become the majority owner of the Broncos, he was wise to tap his fellow billionaire Hobson, the co-CEO of Ariel Investments, to become a minority owner. Barely a month after their historic partnership, it was announced this week that former State Department Secretary Condi Rice would join the owner’s box, too, a move that returns her to the city where she earned her bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Denver. 

Those three barrier breaking moves also come in the wake of the NFL’s continuing partnership with the Black College Football Hall of Fame in sponsoring the Quarterback Coaching Summit, and the Ozzie Newsome General Manager Forum.

Those two events, one designed to advance Black assistant coaches to head coaching opportunities, and the other to groom Black scouts and entry level organization workers for careers in upper management, drew 65 participants in their latest sessions!

Cognizant that nearly six out of 10 NFL players are Black, I have long lamented the paucity of Blacks leading NFL franchises on the sidelines, in the management suites, and in the owners boxes. While there are still issues regarding hiring and promoting talented Black professionals in the NFL, much like issues that are actually far worse in the NCAA Division I ranks, I cannot ignore that the success of Blacks like Martin Mayhew, a Tallahassee native and former NFL star who is the General Manager of the Washington Commanders, and Todd Bowles, the former Morehouse College assistant coach who now is the Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, may only pave the way for even more Black talent flooding the coaching and managing side of the game.

I am certainly old enough to remember cheering for (or watching highlights) of my favorite Black players like Ken Riley, Bob Hayes, Jerry Rice, Darrell Greene, and Lawrence Taylor dominate the game, but I also remember that many of those men did not have the same front office opportunities as their former white teammates once they hung their cleats up for good. Which it why it pleases me to see that after so many stumbles regarding Colin Kaepernick, social justice, and executive diversity during the last decade, that the NFL is making strides to allow talented minorities the chance to make it big as more than just “ballers.”

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