The Jacksonville Jaguars have continued to draw immense criticism for their hiring of former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle as their new director of sports performance.
This time, the criticism is coming from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the diversity group which is "comprised of scouts, coaches, and front office personnel in the NFL as well as other sports professionals committed to equal opportunity in the industry" according to the group's website.
“At a time when the NFL has failed to solve its problem with racial hiring practices, it is simply unacceptable to welcome Chris Doyle into the ranks of NFL coaches,” the group said Friday.
“Doyle’s departure from the University of Iowa reflected a tenure riddled with poor judgment and mistreatment of Black players. His conduct should be as disqualifying for the NFL as it was for University of Iowa. Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,’ reflects the good ol’ boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches.”
Doyle was the Iowa Hawkeyes' strength and conditioning coach for over 20 years before he and Iowa entered a "separation agreement" following numerous former players alleging the program had racial disparities, referencing alleged racial remarks and mistreatment by Doyle. Doyle disputed the claims, but it resulted with the end of his tenure at Iowa.
The hiring of Doyle to lead the Jaguars' "strength and conditioning and athletic training programs" has seen current and former NFL players weigh in, as well as media pundits and analysts throughout the sports world.
“How tone-deaf do you have to be to hire a guy in this time in this time in the country, in this league, with the things we’ve been dealing with,” former NFL defensive lineman and current analyst Marcus Spears said on ESPN’s NFL Live on Thursday. “Who gets that pass? Outside of Urban Meyer and this coach Doyle who is coming in with these things that transpired at Iowa."
“I vet everyone on our staff and like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years. [There were] a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff, but we did a very good job vetting that one," Meyer said Thursday when pressed on why he hired Doyle.
Five of the 12 questions Meyer took on the announcement of his coaching staff on Thursday were related to Doyle's hiring, showing the amount of focus that has already been placed upon the controversial move.
Meyer announced a staff of over two dozen coaches and support staff on Thursday. This includes 14 minority coaches, though the hiring of Doyle has understandably been the focus.
Meyer stood by his decision to hire Doyle, noting that both general manager Trent Baalke and owner Shad Khan "vetted" Doyle and his background as well. Meyer didn't expound to describe if his vetting process involved him speaking to Iowa players, coaches, or administration.
“I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years. Our relationship goes back to when I was at Utah and he was the number one strength coach. Really, he was doing sports performance before sports performance became a high priority in college sports," Meyer said. "I’ve known him. I’ve studied him. We’ve had a relationship. I vetted him thoroughly along with our general manager [Trent Baalke] and owner [Shad Khan]. [We] feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position."
“I met with our staff about it and I’m going to be very transparent with all the players, like I am with everything, and listen closely and learn. There’s going to have to be some trust in their head coach that we’re going to give them the very best of the best," Meyer later continued..
"Time will tell. Once again, a player that’s hurt and not performing or not maximizing what strength and prehab abilities [they have] so they’re getting hurt or they’re not performing at the highest level I think is a high priority. The allegations that took place, I will share I vetted him. I know the person for close to 20 years and I can assure them there’ll be nothing of any sort in the Jaguar facility.”