There is a lot that can be said about Dennis Allen and the job he’s doing as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He’s received a tremendous amount of criticism and backlash from the fans following consecutive 4-12 seasons. Some of it is fair, some of it maybe not so much. But it comes with the job title. And though there is much valid criticism of his job performance, and a discussion should be had, one thing he absolutely does not deserve is to have it suggested that he is a racist over the situation with Terrelle Pryor.
We’ll ignore the fact that the majority of the Raiders’ roster is composed of Black players and the fact that his boss, GM Reggie McKenzie is Black. There has not been one hint that Allen is anything but a good, decent guy. However, in the minds of some, the way the situation with Pryor has played out in Oakland apparently indicates racial discrimination. Some have been very outspoken in their belief that Allen has refused to play Pryor for no other reason than the color of his skin. Even worse are the conspiracy theories floating around which claim that Allen called offensive plays with the specific intent of getting Pryor injured. The garbage being thrown around about the situation makes the garbage that was thrown around by Pryor’s former agent Jerome Stanley seem tame in comparison. Sort of.
The conspiracy theories being tossed around by both Stanley and Pryor fans are as baseless as they are ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that they are contradicted by common sense, logic, and fact. Some of the tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists have seemingly forgotten that Pryor was named the team’s starting coming out of camp. Not Matt Flynn. Not Matt McGloin. Pryor was the starter to open the season and it was only an injury to the quarterback that allowed Flynn to get into a game — and bomb spectacularly — to begin with. It was another injury later in the season that opened the door for McGloin. If not for injuries, Pryor likely would have started every game of the season. If Allen were truly a racist who didn’t want a Black person under center for his team — as some very loudly insist that he is — wouldn’t he have found or manufactured some reason why Pryor lost the camp battle and started Flynn from the beginning? Of course, that seems to be applying simple logic to a situation that very clearly lacks it.
The idea that Allen was calling plays with the intention of getting Pryor injured is as absurd as the charges of racism are. That sort of Machiavellian scheme would only have been effective had Pryor actually been running the plays Allen called. One of the team’s biggest, ongoing issues with Pryor has been that he doesn’t know the playbook as well as he should, and that he improvises far too much. It’s not Allen’s supposed racist intent that led to Pryor’s injuries, it’s the player’s own freelancing style. Pryor has been his own worst enemy and his history with injuries have more to do with his playing style than some of racist conspiracy in Oakland.
Despite what some seem to believe, there is no grand, racist conspiracy in Oakland designed to keep Pryor down. It’s a simple case of square peg, round hole. It’s just a bad fit. Nothing more, nothing less. Making more of than that, especially by accusing Allen of racism — simply because some people don’t like how a situation involving their favorite player is playing out — is cheap, low, and entirely repugnant. Of course there is still a problem with racism in this country. Unfortunately so. And we’d be naive to think otherwise. But throwing the race card out where it very clearly does not belong only makes the issue worse. Even more than that though, it undermines those people who actually are forced to deal with racial discrimination in their everyday lives.
Dennis Allen is many things. He may even be a bad head coach. But what he isn’t, is a racist.