On the same week when two African-American coaches are set to meet in Big Ten play, former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien had to address racist remarks made about his Houston Texans quarterback.
Texas school superintendent Lynn Redden — who oversees the Onalaska district, about 90 miles north of Houston — took to Facebook over the weekend when QB Deshaun Watson ended the game on a bad decision. The NFL signal-caller held onto the ball for too long and threw it over the middle, preventing his team from a chance at a field goal in the 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Redden wrote, “When you need precision decision making, you can’t count on a black quarterback.” Redden said he meant for the message to be private.
O’Brien wasn’t having any of that during a press conference Wednesday. Here’s what he said in full:
“I don’t want to waste a lot of time responding to outdated, inaccurate, ignorant, idiotic statements. I’ll just let Deshaun’s proven success on the field, his character off the field, speak for itself. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever coached, and he represents everything that’s right about football, that’s right about life.
“His teammates respect him, this coaching staff respects him and, in this day and age, it’s just amazing that B.S. exists. But it does. But we’re moving forward and, our fans, they love Deshaun, and we’re really concentrating on the Giants. But I felt like I wasted about a minute and a half responding to that B.S.”
Redden has not yet been fired but, according to CBS, the school board is scheduled to have a special meeting Saturday to discuss his contract.
Redden has since expressed regret that the comment was posted. But he appeared to defend his opinion to The Houston Chronicle by saying, “Over the history of the NFL, they (black quarterbacks) have had limited success.”
As the Chronicle pointed out, the Washington Redskins’ Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl in 1988. Since then, both Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks have played in Super Bowls.
O’Brien’s comments came just a day after current Penn State coach James Franklin addressed the topic of playing another African-American coach this Friday. Franklin and Illinois coach Lovie Smith comprise two of the 13 black head coaches in the FBS — and the Big Ten game is one of the few times this season where two African-American coaches will face one another in college football.
“I’d love for us to get to a point where this really isn’t even a conversation anymore,” Franklin said Tuesday, referring to the game involving him and Smith. “Obviously, I don’t think we’re there yet.”