14 Jun Lawyer Jon Cartu Reports – Chargers coach Anthony Lynn delivers guidance when his team…
Anthony Lynn didn’t ask to be the NFL’s unofficial spokesman for the state of diversity in the coaching ranks, but when you’re one of four minority head coaches out of 32, the questions automatically come.
Lynn, the Chargers’ fourth-year coach and the organization’s first African American head coach, had a scheduled radio interview on the Zach Gelb Show last month. Before jumping on the call, Lynn noticed the NFL Network’s report on the league’s proposal of rewarding teams that hire minority head coaches and general managers. Lynn had little time to do his research, but he knew the question was coming.
“You know, Zach, at some point, I knew you were going to bring that up,” Lynn said during the radio interview. “I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing, if that makes sense at all.”
It made perfect sense and many had the same sentiments. NFL owners tabled the incentives proposal.
People want to hear from Lynn, but his answers haven’t changed much regarding the league’s lack of diversity in the coaching ranks and front offices. In his three-plus seasons with the Chargers, Lynn has pushed for more assistant coaches to get interviews for head-coaching vacancies, not just coordinators. He wants networking to improve because many times it’s about who you know.
Lynn, however, doesn’t want it to come down to race. He believes the right person, the right fit and most qualified should earn the job.
Lynn, 51, was denied by five teams for head-coaching openings before the Chargers said yes. Lynn took the long route to get where he is, and sometimes he wondered if race had something to do with it, but he likely wouldn’t have accepted the five other jobs if they only wanted him because of the color of his skin.
At times, Lynn appears annoyed when discussing the NFL’s lack of diversity in news conferences. Perhaps he’s tired of sounding like a broken record. He’s provided possible solutions, but not much has changed.
Once again, many turned to Lynn for guidance following the death of George Floyd and the worldwide protests that called for the end of police brutality and systemic racism. His team, from players to front office executives, needed him more than ever.
Lynn didn’t wait for someone to ask his opinion, but he did take his time to gather his thoughts to make sure people listened.
His message needed to be loud and clear because this wasn’t about a hiring process. This came down to race. It was about human rights.
Earlier this month, Lynn invited L.A. Times columnist LZ Granderson to his home to send his message, powerful words that consisted of racial profiling experiences to encouraging people to no longer stand silent on the sidelines in the fight against racism. Lynn’s words inspired his players and it led to tough but necessary conversations with coaches during Zoom team meetings.
“It meant a lot,” Chargers running back Justin Jackson said about Lynn’s words. “It (doesn’t) matter what you do, at the end of the day, when you’re out there on the street and someone doesn’t know who you are, you’re just another black dude. We all feel that, so it was good to have our coach speak up, speak out and lead our organization.”
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco doesn’t know the type of hurt his coach and black players have experienced, but he listened to the pain. Telesco texted his players for thoughts and ideas on how to effect positive changes in low-income communities of color.
“That was really awesome for me to see,” Jackson said. “Just to see he (Telesco) supported us and he wants to be involved in the fight as much as any of us and he wants to support us and have our backs, and I think that means a lot for us as players.”
Jackson is one of the Chargers’ most vocal players on social media. He’s able to discuss politics and racial issues without having to worry about job security.
“Just to know (Lynn and Telesco) have our backs and we have their support, obviously, that means a lot to us,” Jackson said. “We can feel like we can speak without any barriers or feel like any type of repercussions will come, which is not how it should be anyway because just because we play football doesn’t mean we’re not regular people, too. We experience these things outside our facility, so it affects all of us.
“It’s definitely something a lot of us feel strongly about and want to speak up more about and want to have more effect in change in our community and just around the country.”
A way to get people’s attention is to share personal experiences with racism. In his conversation with Granderson, Lynn mentioned a recent encounter with a police officer who pulled him over and asked if he was on parole or ever been to jail before asking for license and registration.
Chargers outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu has many stories similar to Lynn’s.
“The stories I have are ridiculous, man,” Nwosu said. “If I tell you from the times from high school or middle school or even just growing up like in parks or whatever, there’s so many stories.”
Now that people are listening, Lynn wants actions. He’s a popular man after his powerful words, but he’s done speaking for now. He’s busy working on solutions.
The Chargers’ leader seems to have the right approach when it comes to new hires on his coaching staff.
Lynn recently hired Pep Hamilton, who is black, to be his quarterbacks coach, and not because the league needs more black assistant coaches, but because of his esteemed credentials. Lynn also hired James Campen, a white coach, to be his offensive line coach because they instantly connected and spoke for hours during the interview. Campen wasn’t a part of Lynn’s network circle.
On Wednesday, the Chargers announced that Lynn and Hamilton will participate in the third annual quarterback coaching summit later this month. The virtual event will provide development and networking opportunities for minority coaches.
Lynn is all about actions, and the NFL world awaits his next game plan in the fight against racism.