In a recent article, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants has outclassed Chip Kelly by an act that could possibly remove any future racism allegations. Great leaders have the ability to correctly evaluate their present status and rebound to ensure that they reach higher levels of production. Unlike Tom Coughlin, it appears that Chip Kelly does not have the leadership skills needed to offset past allegations of racism.
In a recent article, the New York Giants head coach treated his players to a spa day. The team members had the opportunity to choose between yoga, massage, pressure boot therapy, and some other healthy alternatives instead of practice. Coughlin has been warned for his past military leadership style for which was considered as confrontational towards players.
Chip Kelly has followed this same pattern of confrontation towards players. Two Black NFL players have supposedly come to the rescue of Chip Kelly. One player stated, “Chip is not a racist. The notion he is isn’t fair. The thing with Chip is he just doesn’t see you as a person. He sees you as a commodity. The more players get that, the better off they’ll be. “The player went on to say, “Chip’s attitude towards players doesn’t bother me. I actually like it. I know where I stand with him. You understand that he doesn’t want to be challenged so don’t f–king challenge him. It’s pretty simple. I get it. Some guys don’t.”
A second Black Philadelphia Eagles player said, “He sets the agenda. You don’t follow it, you’re dead to him. That’s not racial. Some guys handle it well, some guys don’t.” Both players declined to be named out of fear of repercussions from Kelly which is an indication of a dysfunctional organization.
Chip Kelly’s dictatorial behavior is problematic on two fronts. The first problem is that it resembles the same slave-master relationship that contributed to slavery. Specifically, it resembles the same mindset that is now attributed to the contributions of the Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow laws became a prominent way of life because Whites believed Blacks were intellectually inferior, lacking morals, shiftless, and incapable of living without strict rules and oversight by Whites. Chip Kelly’s leadership style replicates the same belief system that continues to be perpetrated by the former Jim Crow laws.
The second problem with Chip Kelly’s attitude is it reveals his disrespect for how Blacks communicate. For example, Blacks not only debate the idea but they also debate the person while Whites debate the idea rather than the person debating the idea. Blacks will often probe past a given statement to find out where a person is “coming from,” so that they may clarify the meaning and value of a particular behavior or attitude. Blacks contrast White middle-class communication when they speak over others’ voices and repeat the communication until they are responded to or until they have someone’s attention.
When Black players attempt to communicate with Chip Kelly the result could continue the perceived racism that now has become an important obstacle. This lack of respect towards the Black culture will continue to be problematic for Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles for years to come. No team has won a Super Bowl that has had to publicly encountered problems with racism.
Let’s take a look at how this could play out on the football team. DeSean Jackson goes down and catches a touchdown on a down, in, and up. However, the play called was a down and across. Tuesday comes around and in the wide receivers meeting Chip Kelly confronts Jackson about the play. Jackson will naturally evaluate Chip from a global and personal perspective as indicated by the Black communication style outlined above. Kelly now takes in personally and is out to get Jackson. While he may have indicated that his choice to trade Jackson was not racial, the reality is that the racial conflict at the team meeting was the primary reason for the conflict. This is one example of how racism can impact Chip Kelly, the Philadelphia Eagles, and their chances at winning Super Bowl 50.
Chip Kelly could learn a lesson from Tom Coughlin and step in the direction of promoting positive racial relationships.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. www.positiveracialrelationships.com PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
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