Kellen Moore, Ben Johnson or Mike McDonald wouldn’t go through what Antonio Pierce has to deal with.
When the Las Vegas Raiders went into Arrowhead Stadium on Monday and upset Kansas City, 20-14, it wasn’t just more proof that the absences of Eric Bieniemy and Tyreek Hill have changed the way we look at the Chiefs, it also served as the latest example of why the interim tag shouldn’t be attached to Pierce’s name.
“Hell of a job by those guys, our staff, [defensive coordinator] Patrick Graham … it’s tough,” Pierce said as he got emotional after the game.
“This is what we wanted. We said enough is enough. It was going to take all 60 minutes and it did. Hell of a job by our offense to finish it.”
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On a day in which the NFL proved that it could snatch Christmas away from the NBA, Baltimore’s 33-19 road victory over San Francisco may be what many are focusing on, as Lamar Jackson used the postgame press conference to call out the “disrespect” he and his team dealt with before the game. However, the real disrespect of the last few weeks has come from Raiders owner Mark Davis as he’s yet to announce Pierce as Las Vegas’ permanent head coach.
Ever Since Pierce took over when Josh McDaniels was fired, the Raiders have gone 4-3, beat the Chargers and Chiefs, and at 7-8, aren’t completely out of the playoff picture. Monday’s win was also the Raiders first over Kansas City since 2020, and only their second time beating Patrick Mahomes.
However, the real reason Davis’ inaction is so disrespectful to Pierce is because it’s far too often another example of how racism works in the NFL, especially when it comes to Black coaches.
History and owners haven’t been kind to Black men who wear the interim tag. Between 2010 and last fall, there had been 14 times when a white coach served under the interim tag. In that same time frame, there was never a time in which a Black interim coach was replaced by another Black coach. Leslie Frazier (2010) and Romeo Crennel (2011) are some of the few exceptions in league history in which a Black interim coach has been promoted.
It’s as if Mark Davis doesn’t want to learn from Dave Tepper’s mistake.
“I had a talk with Steve (Wilks), no promises were made, but if he does an incredible job, he has to be in consideration,” Panthers owner Dave Tepper said last October when Wilks was announced as Carolina’s interim coach. Tepper chose Frank Reich over keeping Wilks — a decision that went against what the players wanted. Tepper fired Reich (1-10) last month, the Panthers are atrocious, and Wilks has been vindicated as he serves as the 49ers defensive coordinator.
With games left against the Colts and Broncos — two teams who are also still fighting to make the postseason — the Raiders could make things interesting if they win out. But even if they don’t, Antonio Pierce has already shown why he should be the next full-time Black head coach in the NFL, as we’ve been forced to watch — again — the hurdles that Black coaches have to deal with.
“I feel like the No. 1 thing I can say about him is he’s just direct,” Raiders star defensive end Maxx Crosby said about Pierce last month. “He’s blunt about everything, he’s going to give you the truth. Sometimes you don’t want to hear it, but you’d rather have that than somebody sugarcoat sh*t. A guy like AP, you’ve got to respect it, because he’s been a player, he’s been in our shoes, he’s been on the other side — he’s been coaching — and he’s seen it all. A guy like that, that can step in front of the room and demand respect, it makes everybody else be a little more dialed in, have a little bit of nervousness — like, I need to be on point, but at the same time, you want to play for somebody like that because you know he’s got your back.”