etespite everything, a group of people believe disgraced former Baylor Bears coach Art Briles is the right person to speak to coaches about how to deal with scandal and society issues.
That’s the lede — the unsavory, disturbing heart of this story. That the American Football Coaches Association has invited Briles, a man still so muddled in scandal that a CFL franchise reversed course hours after hiring him due to the backlash, to speak to its coaches.
You know, so other coaches can learn about important non-football things from him.
In case you somehow forgot, Briles was the coach of Baylor who is at the center of several lawsuits over allegedly knowing about mass-sexual assault happening on campus, but failing to disclose to the proper officials. A scandal so big, it has a Wikipedia page documenting the story that is well over 6,000 words in length and still has entries being added to it years after the first report broke.
That doesn’t seem like the ideal man to talk about societal issues, but apparently the man in charge of judging such important characteristics does.
“It’s our responsibility to educate coaches,” AFCA executive director and former Louisiana Monroe head coach Todd Berry told The Athletic. “Certainly one of the things Coach Briles experienced, and one of the things I believe he’s going to share, is there are some things that happened and he can share an experience no one else can with our group, so that we can avoid issues down the road.
“While there are things you know in theory, the reality is you’re going to gain more from someone who experienced it, that knows what to look for.”
We’re talking about theories here?
If anyone earnestly believes Briles will speak at that convention with his heart in the right place and only with an honest description of what happened at Baylor coming out of his mouth, then fine. Other coaches could learn from Briles’ not just mistakes, but purposed alleged mishandling of an awful situation.
Briles may talk about overcoming odds and obstacles and other things that were totally his own doing — and certainly nothing ethical, moral, or even human.
Don’t worry, though. AFCA has only managed to somehow make this worse.
Berry had to stretch his justification of allowing Briles to speak when pressed by The Athletic. He did so by conjuring someone who should never have to hear her name whispered in the same breath of Briles.
For the previous convention held by AFCA, the public speaker was rape survivor Brenda Tracy. It had to be a harrowing ordeal for her, as she recounted her trials and tribulations; the sort she didn’t ask to have, but were forced upon her.
At the end of her speech, Tracy received a standing ovation from the group of coaches. Good for them.
“We’re not going to shy away from those things,” Berry said. “These are things we need to deal with as a society, and certainly within football. Brenda did an outstanding job in a very difficult situation. She experienced something that, as men, we don’t understand. She did it in a way that allowed us to get a better feel for that. That’s why we’re going to continue that with Rachel Baribeau this year and with Art Briles.
“We’re going to take on those really difficult issues with people that experienced them. That way, we’ve got a better way of making corrections.”
You’re going to have Art Briles after Brenda Tracy because what now?
The American Football Coaches Association, an organization that has its headquarters stationed at the doorstep of Baylor’s campus, is doing something counterproductive for the sake of — well, to be honest, I don’t know. Anything I add to AFCA’s reasoning, the real reasoning behind this idea, would be pure speculation.
I do know this. It is 2018. The nation has stopped shying away from sexual abuse allegations and people with power abusing it. Art Briles represents both of those things to legendary degrees of horror.
Figurehead. Mastermind. Big part. Small part. Life experience or not. None of these lame attempts at justification matter. Under no circumstances should Briles be telling his side of the story on the back of good ideas such as discussing and valuing societal issues and injustices.
Art Briles was a football coach. A good one. He was also a person who used his power inappropriately. This isn’t a man who should be given a platform that has even the smallest hint of power with it.
Don’t let him be the voice for the voiceless. He wasn’t before. He shouldn’t be now.