Lawyer representing Steve Wilks: “There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL”

Carolina Panthers v Seattle Seahawks
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When Panthers owner David Tepper made Steve Wilks the interim head coach on October 10, Tepper was asked whether Wilks had a shot to keep the job beyond 2022.

If he does an incredible job, he has to be in consideration,” Tepper said.

Wilks arguably did an incredible job. He forced the team into playoff contention. He won the loyalty, admiration, and respect of his players. Players spoke up in his favor.

Now, the team that fired its head coach during the season has hired a coach who was fired by another team during the season, instead of Wilks. And Doug Wigdor, who represents Wilks in the pending Brian Flores racial discrimination case against the league and several teams, has made it clear that Wigdor and Wilks have a problem with the move.

“We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks did as the interim coach, including bringing the team back into playoff contention and garnering the support of the players and fans, that he was passed over for the head coach position by David Tepper,” Wigdor said in a statement that was both circulated by email and tweeted. “There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL, and we can assure you that we will have more to say in the coming days.”

This clearly implies that the Panthers could soon be added to the pending lawsuit as yet another defendant, for not giving Wilks a chance to do from scratch that which he was able to do after Tepper tasked Wilks with the inherently difficult position of trying to win with a team that was bad enough to get its coach fired less than a month into the season.

63 responses to “Lawyer representing Steve Wilks: “There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL”

  1. It’s tough to defend not hiring Wilks. I could understand if they made a sexy hire like Payton or Harbaugh but Reich is pretty underwhelming.

  2. Frank Reich IS THE ONLY ONE to continue the terrible QB carousel in Carolina! Passing of the torch! I love it

  3. Wilkes stunk in Arizona. One and done. He will probably never be a head coach in the NFL again based on that. He was given an opportunity though. As was Joseph, As was Bowles(twice now), As was Flores, As was Anthony Lynn. Regardless of color you have to win. If you win you keep your job. If you lose you don’t.

  4. Still trying to wrap my head around hiring Kingsbury, he failed where ever he was and still got a head coaching job in the NFL. Everyone trying to get the next great mind from the coaching ranks. It doesn’t work. Does it mean discrimination? I believe if you own something you have that right to hire whom ever you want to run it, even if it’s a boneheaded hire, Cardinals, Panthers, the list goes on.

  5. He was 3-13 his only year as a head coach so we’re not exactly talking about the second coming of Lombardi.

  6. David Tepper got a chance to experience Steve Wilks. Maybe he just disliked the guy, maybe the GM did. Who knows? How can it be a race issue when he was hired into the role? I think this one is stretching.

  7. I havent ever heard of a 6-6 coaching record while giving up a QB that you couldnt develop and paying him a ton of money, is an incredible coaching job ?

  8. He finished tied for last in the worst division in football where the division winner had a losing record. I wouldn’t necessarily call that an incredible job.

  9. 8-9 won the division. 6-9 was in contention. don’t let that get in the way of your narrative.

  10. Panther’s problem has been the quarterback since Tepper has owned the team. Baker Mayfield did not look like an NFL player under Rhule and then Wilkes. When Baker went to the Rams he looked like a solid NFL quarterback. That had to be embarassing to Tepper. I think Tepper took the guy he thinks will help him develop a QB.

  11. Bringing the team into playoff contention? Look at the win/loss record. Wilks did better than expected, but ownership is going with whom they judge has the best chance at winning. Way too much at stake to let race be a factor. Any good Wilks did to his resume by his performance just got wiped out by playing that ridiculous race card crap. Hit the road Wilks.

  12. portis26 says:
    January 26, 2023 at 4:35 pm

    He was 3-13 his only year as a head coach so we’re not exactly talking about the second coming of Lombardi.

    Maybe he was. Lombardi, great? Dude ran one play.

  13. Maybe he didn’t interview well, maybe he and the owner just dont get along, maybe Frank Reich has a long history with the owner and that’s ok too… If he is that good then other teams will interview him. You cannot always assume race is the issue. The record wasn’t that great

  14. Wilks seemed to give Carolina a boost after his hire, but their performance was hardly incredible. Just because somebody gets hired or fired or not, doesn’t mean that the decision was about race.

  15. Ha! Ya think?! Underachieving Reich and Bumbling Stumbling Mike McCarthy getting head coaching jobs shows why the NFL needs something stronger than the Rooney Rule. What a joke!

  16. New rule. Half of the teams MUST have a person of color as their head coach OR have two of their three coodinators to be persons of color.

    If half of the teams do meet the rule, the next team needing the coach can hire anyone they want.

    For isntance, you can hire a white head coach if your OC, DC, or STC are filled with at least two POC.

    If the team does not satisfy the coordinator requirement then they must hire a POC for head coach.

    Problem solved. No more sham interviews and all blatant racism would be out in the open.

    Frank Reich wouldn’t get fired for 20 years, but at least it would be obvious why.

  17. Rich Bissacia made the playoffs with the Raiders in 2021 after the team went through crisis after crisis. He still didn’t get the job!!

  18. portis26 says:
    January 26, 2023 at 4:35 pm

    He was 3-13 his only year as a head coach so we’re not exactly talking about the second coming of Lombardi.

    Maybe he was. Lombardi, great? Dude ran one play.

    Sure, and everyone knew what was coming and still couldn’t stop it. AND the Trophy that everyone sacrifices their body for is named after him. SHM

  19. He put them in playoff contention in a bad division but lost out to a Bucs team that got demolished in the playoffs, that’s true.

  20. If the Colts actually hire Saturday (and I think the odds are uncomfortably high for Colts fans) then Wilks definitely has a viable case

  21. Most of the time I don’t agree with stuff like this, but I think Wilks has a case. He did well as Interim Head Coach. I think he deserved a shot at the permanent job.

  22. Well that didn’t take long before “I’m black and you didn’t hire me “ screams to start . It’s soooooooo tiring and ultimately will cause people to watch less and less NFL football.

  23. His lawyer obviously hasn’t watched the game tape from the Steelers and Bucs games…

  24. Look at what Cincinnati has accomplished since finally getting rid of Marvin Lewis after 16 year of no playoff wins.
    There was only one reason he was there for so long.

  25. The Panthers were 6-6 under Wilks. Hardly set the world on fire. Low bar if .500 is an incredible job.

  26. His record was below average as a head coach. Owners want to win no matter what so I don’t think they look beyond his abilities

  27. .500 is incredible these days I suppose. You know, they lost in a not-close game against the Steelers, and when the season, division, and playoffs are on the line, he punted from midfield and did nothing to make life difficult for Mike Evans in that second Tampa game. Incredible sure has a low bar.

  28. He did not win a single game against a team with a winning record and lost to the bucs when it mattered most. If he had won that game he would have had the job.

  29. Yet no one seems to mention as a counterbalance that Hue Jackson got more of a chance than he deserved in Cleveland. No one should be around long enough to go 1-31 over two seasons.

  30. Not the first time an interim coach did not get the job. If he is that good of a coach someone else will hire him.

  31. Wilks got the ship righted but after Rhule, but how hard was that given that Rhule was clueless? I think Tepper wants an offense that puts fans in the seats and wilks was more of a 3 yards and a cloud of dust type of coach. I probably would’ve kept Wilks myself, especially over Reich who is okay but not the 2nd coming of Kyle Shanahan. If you also consider the Panthers have never had an offensive head coach you can understand the decision. It’s Tepper’s money and he has every right to pick his own coach. Having your attorney release a race card statement within the hour is also not a good look.

  32. Wilks is a great guy, not quite as great a coach. High character but flaws began to emerge near year’s end. This response is disappointing and will only serve to harm him in the long run if he responds like his lawyer.

  33. Just face it guys the Panthers are a terrible team and I have a feeling they will continue that trend until Tepper is replaced.

  34. Whether it’s race/nepotism/good-old-boys-club/etc there are clearly issues. Jim Caldwell still hasn’t gotten another head coaching job since winning with the Lions. Matt Patricia who burned the team to the ground after Caldwell was let go might have a better shot at getting another gig than Caldwell. Nathaniel Hackett puts in one of the worst performances offensively in recent history and then IMMEDIATELY gets another OC job. If his name was Nathaniel Smith he’d be hoping to land a high school job.

  35. Steve Wilks did a GREAT job with chopped liver. They could have easily went 3-14 for example. They respect him and if they had a QB who knows what he could have done. Certainly better than Rhule. Some of these comments on here are unfortunate.

  36. I was very impressed with Wilkes – he won his team over and he created a Panther’s identity that focused on both front lines. I hoped that he would get the job. That said, the team made a good hire. Go Coach Reich, Go Terrapins, Go Panthers!!!

  37. Have we not noticed how many black coaches are getting legitimate interviews now, but more importantly, how many black GMs there are now?

  38. Definitely an issue. It speaks to the heart of the Brian Flores case. How does he get the job considering he was just fired from his position. Flores had 2 winning season and be wasn’t able to able to get HC position.

  39. Same with that Raider interim head coach, didn’t he win more games than the current guy?? Is he not in the NFL anymore?? It’ll look great also when the Colts re-hire Jeff Saturday.

  40. Wilkes did a solid job, no doubt. Race? It’s too easy to play that card given the high-octane attention this issue gets. I can’t imagine the owner making a decision like this based on race. Wilkes may have had some proud moments, but some really bad stinker moments, too. Is Reich a cool looking choice? Eh. I like the guy, but he’s not a heavy-hitter, and truth be told, Wilkes wouldn’t have been either. In the end, owner’s money…owner’s choice.

  41. The Steelers have an African American head coach he’s been there for a decade because he wins. 4 years ago the NFL had 5 African American head coaches 4 of them kept losing and got fired. A couple more got hired like Lovie Smith during that time. Lovie Smith lost he got fired. When you have 5 African American coaches and want more of them,you have to start by winning. Then you can add a 6th,7th,and 8th without taking steps backward. And during the last 4 years a lot more white coaches got fired than any other race.

  42. Hear me out…crazy idea alert:

    How about teams simply hire the person who does the best job, regardless of the color of their skin???

  43. Wilkes certainly did an “admirable” job, considering all the factors. Maybe the owners’ definition of “incredible” was winning the division. That is not such a high bar considering the Bucs won it at 8-9. Sure, Wilkes started deep in the hole with a mediocre roster and worse QBs at 2-5 (or whatever), but going 8-4, or better, would have been incredible. 6-6 was “pretty darn good”.

  44. Yeah, I guess, what you conveniently omit is that if you’re white, you get another chance. What can I point to as an example for precedence? Hmm… I wonder who would fit that description…Oh wait! I got it! Frank f’ing Reich!! I hate most lawyers but Wilks lawyer hit the nail on the head

    mainewoodchopper says:
    January 26, 2023 at 4:33 pm
    Wilkes stunk in Arizona. One and done. He will probably never be a head coach in the NFL again based on that. He was given an opportunity though. As was Joseph, As was Bowles(twice now), As was Flores, As was Anthony Lynn. Regardless of color you have to win. If you win you keep your job. If you lose you don’t.

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