The Fritz Pollard Alliance criticized the Jacksonville Jaguars and new head coach Urban Meyer for hiring Chris Doyle, a former strength coach at the University of Iowa who allegedly made racist and derogatory comments to players, as the Jaguars’ director of sports performance.
Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director Rod Graves called the hire “unacceptable” and said it’s the latest example of the issues minority coaches must overcome to get NFL jobs.
“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,” Graves’ statement read. “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.”
Comprised of scouts, coaches and front office personnel in the NFL as well as other sports professionals, the Fritz Pollard Alliance is a charitable organization focused on promoting diversity within the NFL.
The Jaguars announced on Thursday the hiring of Doyle, who had served as the Hawkeyes director of strength and conditioning from 1999 until last summer. The two parted ways after several former Hawkeyes went public with the way they were mistreated during their time in Iowa City.
The NFL and the Jaguars have not responded to a request for comment by NFL Network.
Several Black players alleged that Doyle and other coaches used racist language towards them, while a former offensive lineman, who is Caucasian, said Doyle and other coaches made fun of his learning disability.
Doyle claimed he never said anything inappropriate.
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“At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race,” he wrote on Twitter after the allegations against him surfaced. “I do not make racist comments and I don’t tolerate people who do.”
However, Meyer said his background check into Doyle, as well as their conversations and longtime relationship, convinced him Doyle wouldn’t cause any issues in Jacksonville.
“I vet everyone on our staff and like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years and a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff,” Meyer said. “We did a very good job vetting that one.
“… I met with our staff and I’m going to be very transparent with all the players like I am with everything. I’ll listen closely and learn, and also 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, and time will tell. … The allegations that took place, I will say (to the players) I vetted him. I know the person for close to 20 years and I can assure them there will be nothing of any sort in the Jaguar facility.”
The University of Iowa placed Doyle on administrative leave on June 6, and the school and Doyle announced on June 14 that his time with the Hawkeyes was over.
Doyle, who was the country’s highest-paid strength coach at $800,000 annually, received 15 months’ salary, in addition to he and his family receiving benefits from Iowa for 15 months, or until he landed another job.
–Field Level Media