Sports

Tweets Ripping Broncos' Vic Fangio After No-NFL-Racism Claim, Apology

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio during a June 3 virtual press conference.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio during a June 3 virtual press conference. Denver Broncos via YouTube
The Denver Broncos haven't gotten much national attention during this very strange off-season. But that changed in a big way this week when, amid protests in Denver and across the country over the police-custody death of George Floyd, head coach Vic Fangio claimed that he sees no racism in the NFL. And an apology delivered yesterday, June 3, has done nothing to squelch the outrage on social media, as evidenced by the following roundup of angry, passionate or snarky responses on Twitter.

On June 2, Fangio was talking to media reps about players speaking out on racial injustice when he said the following: "I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We're a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don't see racism at all in the NFL, I don't see discrimination in the NFL. We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously."

The response to these assertions was swift and merciless. Pundits and more lined up to take shots at Fangio, including former footballer Martellus Bennett, ESPN shout leader Stephen A. Smith and rap icon Killer Mike. In response, Fangio did his best to eat his words by way of the following statement:
After reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning, I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong. While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand that many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives. I should have been more clear and I am sorry.

I wanted to make the point yesterday that there is no color within the locker rooms I have been in or on the playing fields I have coached on. Unfortunately, we don't live or work only within those confines. Outside of those lines — both in the NFL and society — there is a lot of work to be done in the areas of diversity and providing opportunities across the board for minorities.

As the head coach, I look forward to listening to the players — both individually and collectively — to support them and work hand-in-hand to create meaningful change.
Fangio's mea culpa hasn't satisfied his critics, but he certainly has his defenders, including loads of right-wing Twitter users complaining about political correctness in the sort of coded language that makes it clear they're part of the problem. But some of the focus on Fangio was diverted after a more famous person, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, suggested that players kneeling to protest racial inequity was an example of disrespecting the flag, for which he has now offered his own "I'm sorry."

Not that Fangio's words have been forgotten. Continue to read our picks for the twenty most memorable tweets about his tone-deafness.

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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