The former Bears defensive coordinator called the league a meritocracy, saying “I don’t see discrimination in the NFL.”
Former Bears defensive coordinator and current Broncos head coach Vic Fangio apologized Wednesday after previously telling reporters that racism was not an issue in the NFL.
“While reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning, I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong,” Fangio said in a statement released by the Broncos.
“While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand that many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives. I should have been more clear and I am sorry.”
“After reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning, I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong.”
A statement from Head Coach Vic Fangio: pic.twitter.com/5yNNDn9VzY
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) June 3, 2020
The day before, Fangio said the NFL is “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.”
His comments come as many in the sports world rally to raise awareness of systemic racism after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd. Floyd’s death prompted a series of protests across the country.
Fangio’s original comments came a month after the NFL approved expanding the Rooney Rule requiring teams to diversify the pool of potential coaches and front office executives.
Seahawks running back Chris Carson called Fangio “a joke” in a tweet.
Bears receiver Allen Robinson said he hadn’t heard Fangio’s quote, but understands the point he was trying to get across.
“I don’t think that it was negative or anything like that.” Robinson said. “I think he was just saying that in the locker room people are just evaluated for who they are as people and players.”
Of the five head coaching jobs that were open after the 2019 season, only one went to a non-white candidate when the Washington Redskins hired Ron Rivera.
Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Miami’s Brian Flores and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Anthony Lynn are the only black coaches in the league. There are just two black general managers: Cleveland’s Andrew Berry and Miami’s Chris Grier.