In one of his more ridiculous commentaries, one of many delivered over the years, ESPN First Take host Stephen A. Smith seemed to suggest current Philadelphia Eagles head coach and former University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is a racist, or has racist motives in how he structures the team.
Nor did Smith keep this offensive suggestion simple and short: “Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable. I think that’s fair to say. I mean, we’re sitting here looking at some of the decisions that Chip Kelly makes and I’m like what is up? What’s up with that? I mean, it’s like you’ve got to be his kind of guy, you know? And I’m like, well, Riley Cooper’s your kind of guy?”
He continued by seemingly trying to validate his thought process due to the many years he has worked in Philadelphia, stating the following:
“Let’s get beyond the system, the operative word is ‘culture.’ ”The culture is what resonates with me more profoundly because I’m looking at a Chip Kelly and I’m like, really? Now, you’ve got to remember, where did I work for 16 years? I mean, this is Philadelphia. You understand what I’m saying? I’m always in Philly, and I’m telling you right now you’ve got people walking the streets and, hell with it, you’ve got brothers walking the streets going like ‘What’s up with Chip?’ I don’t understand this. I really don’t understand what you’re doing. Now I’m not saying I know, I’m just saying that it does strike me as a tad bit odd. I’m going to repeat this. Gone: LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, you know, DeSean Jackson. Staying: Riley Cooper. Really? Really? OK.”
Wow! Nothing like using one player, Riley Cooper in this case, as the foundation for an entire argument. Now I am supposed to believe that Kelly, since moving to the NFL, a league where over two-thirds of its players are African-American, is building a team based on racism? As many people in the media have been quick to note in the aftermath of Stephen A’s comments, Kelly has released white players in addition to signing plenty of African-American players.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports noted in his column, “If Kelly is a racist who wants to build a roster full of white guys, he’s doing a spectacularly bad job of it.”
Oregon fans, of course, do not even need to look beyond Kelly’s tenure at Oregon to see through the absurdity of Smith’s comments. He chose Darron Thomas as the starting quarterback over Nate Costa, as just one high-profile example.
Chip Kelly certainly has enough credentials to refute, if he so chooses, this unwarranted commentary from Smith. As all of us Duck fans know very well, Kelly has no problem articulating his thought process or speaking his mind. If Kelly indeed does address Smith’s remarks, his response will not be in typical “coach speak” fashion.
What is most bothersome about this type of commentary, given the way news travels in today’s instantaneous world, is that someone like Smith, who has a lofty soapbox (ESPN) from which to lob his grenades, can simply suggest possible racism without actual proof of it. He can easily string together a bunch of names and connect them with dots of his own choosing (while ignoring other dots) and then launch his attack. Chip Kelly, and the American viewership, deserve better.
Top photo by John Giustina