Vic Fangio Issues Apology After his Controversial Remarks on the State of Racism in the NFL
On Tuesday, Denver Broncos' Head Coach Vic Fangio tried to do a good thing by issuing a strong statement condemning police brutality while addressing the need for our society to continue to strive to find solutions to any and all forms of racial inequality.
Unfortunately, when broaching a subject as complex and sensitive as race and social justice, one must be hyper-aware and choose one's words with the utmost wisdom especially in an environment as volatile as the current state of affairs in the U.S. As a public figure, Coach Fangio learned that the hard way as he woke up Wednesday morning to a cacophony of criticism over a remark made during his Tuesday virtual press conference with media on the subject of whether racism and discrimination towards minorities exist in the modern NFL.
"I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal," Fangio said on Tuesday. "We’re a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don’t see racism at all in the NFL. I don’t see discrimination in the NFL. We live in a great atmosphere. Like I alluded to earlier, we’re lucky. We all live together joined as one for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we’d all be great.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Fangio issued a statement apologizing for the above remark.
Fangio is a good man. He cares deeply for his players and over his many decades in the NFL, he has gone above and beyond his responsibilities as a coach to help players off the field.
‘‘He always just shares with us financial articles about guys losing their money in trying to find the newest Facebook and how they reap the consequences of searching for that,’’ Raiders cornerback Prince Amukamara said once. ‘‘It’s just letting us know to save our money. One of the things he dislikes most or hurts him most is when athletes lose their money on dumb decisions.’’
Fangio has always loved sports and is a fierce competitor, but coming out of college, his first love was teaching. Most people don't know that. His first professional aspiration was to get a job at a high school where he could teach and coach.
People don’t develop a passion for teaching (which also defines Fangio’s coaching style) without also having a passion for their fellow human beings. Fangio cares about the well-being of his players. He tries to guide them both on and off the grid-iron.
It's unfortunate that what he intended to be a positive and unifying message on Tuesday has now been buried under an affronted mountain of criticism. But in a country that is literally heaving in the throes of social and racial change, Fangio's remarks inadvertently cast him as a villain on social media.
As his remarks reveal, the 61-year-old Fangio was mortified and quickly issued a statement to clarify and even correct his perspective. No man knows what it's like to stand in another's shoes, especially that of a white man comprehending the world through the eyes of a black man.
Fangio's off-the-cuff remark was made from the perspective of a coach in a locker room where everyone is in the same boat, not necessarily through the dynamics of the NFL's power hierarchy. A lot is changing in America, much of which is justified and a long-time coming, but hopefully one thing that hasn't shifted is this country's spirit of forgiveness especially in the wake of honest and humble contrition.