Sports

Top Broncos Tweets: Did Vic Fangio Escape Firing Because He's White?

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is being given a third season at the helm, unlike his predecessor, Vance Joseph.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is being given a third season at the helm, unlike his predecessor, Vance Joseph. Denver Broncos via YouTube
The final game of the Denver Broncos' 2020-2021 season, a frustrating and embarrassing last-minute 32-31 January 3 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, was perfectly representative of the campaign as a whole. But despite this result and an overall 5-11 record, Vic Fangio isn't sweating out Black Monday — the day after the end of the regular season, when head coaches on the hot seat often learn if they'll be retained or jettisoned. Last week, multiple reports confirmed that Fangio would remain in charge for a third year, despite his putrid accomplishments in the previous two.

No wonder that after the latest L, a debate broke out about Fangio's future, with multiple commenters on Twitter pointing out that his record is just one win better than that of Vance Joseph, his predecessor as Broncos HC — yet Joseph, who's Black, was canned after two seasons, while the very white Vic is getting another chance.

That's not to say Fangio was solely responsible for Denver coming up short against the Raiders, who remain the Broncos' arch-rivals no matter what city they call home. As usual, though, Fangio made at least one major gaffe. In the waning moments, the Raiders marched down the field to score a touchdown and pulled within one point of Fangio's crew — and his opposite number, Jon Gruden, decided to go for a two-point conversion rather than playing for a tie that would have sent the contest into overtime. But Vegas looked completely discombobulated in advance of the play, raising hopes in Broncos Country that the try might fail — until Fangio inexplicably called a timeout, allowing the Raiders a chance to regroup...and succeed.

Afterward, quarterback Drew Lock, who had a decent if typically inconsistent game, completed a pass in the middle of the field to give the Broncos one last shot at a field goal. But after Lock's next throw was off-target, Fangio decided against letting similarly underperforming offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur call another play, and instead sent out field-goal kicker Brandon McManus to attempt an ultra-long-shot 63-yard field goal. The Raiders had blocked an even more comical 70-yard McManus attempt to end the first half, and the same thing happened as the clock expired for the same reason — the kick's trajectory was so low that a squad of elementary school students could probably have knocked it down.


In the shame spiral that followed, some fans defended both Fangio and Lock, suggesting that the impact of the pandemic made it impossible to properly evaluate either of them. But others — many of whom were undoubtedly grieving the death of Broncos Hall of Famer Floyd Little on New Year's Day — saw race as playing an unfortunate part in Fangio's reprieve.

Read on to see what we mean:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts