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Widespread Panic’s John Bell Talks Col. Bruce Hampton & The Art Of “Improvising Eloquently” [Interview]

first_imgOn April 27th and 28th, Trondossa Music & Arts Festival will return to Riverfront Park in North Charleston, SC for its second year. The two-day event will feature performances by Umphrey’s McGee, The Wood Brothers, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, The Marcus King Band, and more. Of course, the Trondossa artist lineup is anchored by host band Widespread Panic, who will perform four sets over the course of the event.Ahead of this weekend’s Trondossa excitement, Live For Live Music Widespread Panic correspondent Otis Sinclair caught up with frontman John Bell to chat about Col. Bruce Hampton, songwriting, the philosophy of communal improvisation, the band’s early days on the frat party circuit, and the virtue of taking a minute to breathe. You can read the conversation below.Otis Sinclair: (After a dropped call) Sorry about that John, crazy morning.John Bell: It promises to get crazier.Otis: The morning’s still young, right?JB: Yup, at least for me [yawns].Otis: Are you an early riser?JB: I’m a medium riser.Otis: Are you a coffee guy?JB: Little bit. Just to get it started, not enough to 4-putt.Otis: No 4-putts. No 3-putts, even. Have you been playing [golf] this year?JB: Not yet. I was hoping to today, but we got a lot of rain.Otis: Widespread Panic had SweetWater 420 Fest in Atlanta last weekend. Looking ahead, you have Trondossa Music & Arts Festival in South Carolina. Now, you’ve recently added your traditional spot on New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s second Thursday lineup after the cancellations of both Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac.JB: It was a nice surprise. With the circumstances, wishing everybody a speedy recovery. Mick [Jagger] and Ms. [Stevie] Nicks. All of a sudden, we’re just watching from afar, we had our schedule locked, and we were like “Man, who do you get to replace The Stones?” The answer is, “Nobody!” You don’t think of it that way cause it’s not gonna happen. We just got a call, “If you guys are free, do you want to come play?” It’s as simple as that.Otis: So, Trondossa is next on your list. When will you guys be traveling to South Carolina? Do you have any collaborations in mind?JB: No. We are playing it real loose at this point. Not give ourselves too much to think about. We will pretty much just chit-chat normally and see how our next few weekends are gonna pan out. But it all happens pretty easily without a lot of fanfare.Otis: That’s always how you guys seem to operate—with a business-as-usual, very casual demeanor, but a very intense, very professional performance. None of the coffee house bullshit, just go out there and get it done and play some good old fashion swamp rock and roll.JB: That’s basically the name of the game. You’re going to play the gig. You can’t really make things happen, you can do as much as you can to put yourself in position to have a good show and to communicate well, and stuff like that. But beyond that, you set yourself up for a positive experience and then you also got to lose any rigidity you might have and fall into the music and see where that takes you.Otis: That otherworldly communication. Tapping into that other dimension, it’s very Col. Bruce-like. That connection between the Col. and Widespread Panic is still apparent—Trondossa Music & Arts Festival even takes its name from one of his songs. Going back to the H.O.R.D.E. Tour and before, could you talk about the relationship and history that you guys have with the Colonel?JB: He came into our lives, we knew him just from going to clubs and seeing him play with Tinsley Ellis and various other configurations, The Stained Souls, and Aquarium Rescue Unit. He was also on our first little independent record label, Landslide Records. He had been longtime friends with the [label] president, so we got to know each other that way.We also started doing some gigs together, too. That was the situation, and just by being in each other’s company, all of a sudden, you got a new friend and a new relationship. Again, it happened pretty naturally. Here’s a cat that you have a lot of fun with, you look up to, still look up to him, and he was a good reminder to keep spontaneity and the magic into the experience. Whether you were driving in a van, or if you were playing music. Basically, he was always a reminder to keep your intentions pure and get over yourself.Otis: It seems you embraced a lot of his spirituality and life in another dimension. It’s almost shamanistic the way you improvise your JB-isms or raps or whatever you want to call them. I was wondering if you could touch on how you clear your mind to get into that zone, to focus in on that kind of whacky, anything-can-happen attitude?JB: Sometimes, you just find yourself there. That’s usually when it’s the most genuine. You play in that space while it’s available to you. Then again, if you start naming it or trying to hold on to it or control it, it’ll slip right away from you and you’re back to the mechanics as opposed to the free-flowing. Which is cool, it’s ebb and flow, and not failure of the system. It’s not a given that you’re always in a mode of clarity—communal clarity. You set yourself up to put yourself in that position so you can improvise as eloquently as possible. Like meditation, real slow in and out, if your tension reigns then that’s part of the gig too. And, you know, we got a lot of practice allowing that process to take place. So that helps you reach that place a little more often. But we don’t take it for granted, because it is kind of a special thing, and almost unnameable when you get there. And have fun while you’re there.Otis: There’s plenty of imagery that you create between “hot, hot in the summertime”, the “smell of apple pie”, “the kids running around playing Cowboys & Indians.” It’s very spot-on, and with each one of your additions, it’s almost like a puzzle piece to the full story. Like in “Space Wrangler”, when you say “He passes the jailhouse without tears (‘cus his daddy’s in there).” It’s just a little something that adds to the song that’s unique and helps you appreciate the story behind it and the bigger picture.JB: And the story changes. When you get into an improvisational mode, there are gonna be some similarities. We played these songs before, so some of the same images are gonna reoccur. They are like photographs of your past, those images have come out before and so you might be visiting again, but a lot of times new details come into play. That’s the exciting time when even after twenty years of playing a song, you can close your eyes and the characters come to life and start doing some variations on what they had done in the past. If you’re riding a good wave, musically, then onstage you can kind of capture the development of the story and the characters and report on it. You’re not really writing or making it up, it just kind of happens. Spew some words to describe what you’re seeing in your head. Sometimes, they rhyme. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, you just fall, right on your ass.Otis: Do you have any particular memories, especially of the earlier days, that you would like to talk about?JB: Well, memories don’t always work spontaneously or on command like that. Usually, you kinda putter around through the day and something will trigger a memory or a dream or something that makes you go “Oh, yeah, I remember that!” But what comes to mind a lot is the early, early days. Basically, ’cause your eyes are wide open, and a lot of weird stuff happens. When you’re first starting out, it’s kinda a trip for you and your bandmates. I wouldn’t say “you against the world,” but it’s you in a big ol’ world with surprises around every corner. You get little things like being paid with quarters out of the pool tables at a joint you were playing. A lot of places along the way, a lot of good memories come from folks who used to let our whole crew crash at their place if we were playing in a town a certain weekend. We wouldn’t have been able to do those gigs if it weren’t for those folks extending their hospitalities, ya know, ’cause there was no affording hotel rooms. Dave [Schools]’s mom was a real good one for that. She let us all stay up in the attic on the third floor at her place when we played Richmond, Virginia. We had some friends in Macon who let us crash at their place. And that usually meant doing the gig and then going and partying all night long, and then coming back and playing the next day after eating some local food and healing up a bit.Otis: Sounds almost like the premise of “Diner” right there, waking up on a park bench a little early.JB: That happened a good many times before we got consistent lodging.Otis: From some earlier research, you were in Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity [at University of Georgia] and you played at some fraternity parties. Were those shows at your frat or others?JB: No, it’s interesting ’cause we didn’t play our fraternity ’til later on, way after we graduated out of college. The ones I remember most were in the S.E.C. area. Clemson used to be in the A.C.C. There’d be Clemson, University of Georgia, there were a couple of fraternities that would have us once or twice a year, and that was a big deal cause you’d make a thousand bucks for a gig and that would keep you at Waffle House for a little bit. At club gigs, you get paid by what was coming through the door or some kind of deal that you’d make with the club owner, and sometimes that could just add up to twenty, thirty bucks a piece by the end of the night. So frat gigs sometimes were a little unruly and crazed as the evening wore on, but they did help keep us afloat. Over in Alabama, we had some experiences. It was a lot of work, and sometimes all your gear got really trashed—because of liquor, food, and beer, and people flying around—but it kept us playing.Otis: I was wondering if you cared to talk about the A-Frame House. That is one of the earliest streams on Panicstream.com. Can you talk about the history of the A-Frame House? Did it have any special meaning to you?JB: That was one of the first gigs. Me and Mike [Houser], and later on Dave [Schools] joined us. Just playing at a party and nothing really special, it was just a little different. We had records playing, and, yes, those were the days of records. So a friend of ours, Neal Becton, who I just saw up in D.C. He is a DJ up there. So he say “Come on over, plug in.” We’d play. Those are where you first cut your teeth on performing and getting comfortable in a public setting and seeing how that felt. Very, very, very humble beginnings and a lot of fun, too. I think I remember having to rescue my guitar out of the bonfire a couple of times.Otis: Let’s talk about your slimmed-down touring schedule. You guys went from playing five or six shows a week to three shows a weekend in different cities, which gives you guys some more off-time. With three nights in one city, you have the “same, rowdy crowd” coming back night after night. How do you perceive the difference in the touring these days?JB: It’s a different way to apply yourself. [When] you go in there really fresh and it’s been no more than a month, then you’re still ready to go as far as being familiar with the songs and your hands are all warmed up. I’m not saying we used to pace ourselves, but you just get into a different flow, different rhythm if you are on the road for 8-10 weeks as opposed to leaving home, blowing into a city, and going straight into rock and roll mode for three days and then blow back home for a few weeks. It has its own explosive element of coming out and playing three shows in a city, about 60-70 songs to go filter through and have fun with. Kinda a mini-marathon within those few days.Otis: When I interviewed JoJo [Hermann] recently, he was saying how good it feels playing in the band and how you guys were all gelling right now, how the old songs kept coming back and everything felt really good to play right now. “Bayou Lena” returned in Durham, and “The Waker” came back in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve for the first time since Mikey passed. Can you talk about the decision in bringing that back?JB: It’s not a big decision. You’re not looking for any kind of response or outcome. Very simply, Duane [Trucks] mentioned the song. He started out with this band listening to a lot of our records. So, he picked up on that and said, “Do you guys ever play that?” “Nah, we haven’t since Mikey passed.” And that song was a little personal. It was written by Mikey for his son, Waker. We hadn’t visited that yet, but with Duane’s prompting, we said, “Oh yeah, sure. Let’s do that.” It’s kind of cool to have a song you haven’t played in fifteen, seventeen years, something like that.Otis: Going back to your original collaborations with Mikey, what writing strategies do you employ? Do you like to write in the morning as opposed to the night? Do you always carry a notebook?JB: It’s good to carry something around. Every song has a little voice memo. I used to keep a little handheld, baby recorder. I even used one with the little tapes in them back in the day. In case you had a thought or a melody line or something, you can catch that and go about your day and not worry about trying to remember it. Like having that little notebook in your pocket, if you want to write something down if any inspiration was to come about. Personally, I enjoy waiting for the inspiration and working from that. Sometimes, you push yourself, sit down and try to articulate the ideas brewing and see where the songs go. Kind of push them along. Usually, it’s me, all in the name of discovery, more than actually steering where stuff goes. You start out to write a song but actually the song kinda just takes off on its own. For me, that’s how the songwriting process goes. As far as collaboration goes, you just have to remember to let go a little bit, especially if you got two different people with two different imaginations happening at the same time. You have to let that other person in and let the other ideas in and see how the tune melds together into one scene.Otis: That’s good advice. Are you still writing? “Sundown Betty” is new. You also debuted a new song, “Sacred Moments”, at a talent show in North Carolina. Can you talk about these two songs and how they came together?JB: Same way. You feel like writing a song and you could hear it in your head. So you just put it down in some kind of form, and then play with it a little bit. We have lots of songs in various stages of birth. We have a lot of things that are gestating right now with no real agenda on our part.Otis: Schools has been spending a lot of time producing music, on the other side of the glass in the studio. I’ve been wondering if you’ve been working on other things too or just reading or spending time with the family.That’s basically it. More homebody stuff and relearning how to do that. It’s mid-1980’s, you kind of throw the regular stuff away and just work on the music and the band. All of a sudden, you wake up thirty-five years later, and now I’ve got to relearn how to chill. Or find your life’s purpose. Right now, my life’s purpose is chilling. It’s good to do other things too. No matter what your beliefs are. This is the lifetime I’ve got to work with, and there’s a lot of stuff on the fey line. This is a nice time along with the music, we get to reunite with our friends and take a minute to breathe while you’re sitting on the back porch. It’s pretty cool. It helps you be a little more well-rounded, and you can bring that back into the music, too. That’s the name of the game. We didn’t start playing rock and roll to be slaves to the alarm clock. For sure. It’ll give me a chance to catch up on my mail.Don’t miss John Bell and Widespread Panic at Trondossa Music & Arts Festival on April 27th and April 28th alongside Umphrey’s McGee, The Wood Brothers, The Marcus King Band, and more. For more information, or to grab your tickets today, head here.You can also enter to win a pair of weekend passes in the contest below!last_img read more

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WHO warns ‘long way to go’ in virus crisis, deaths top 180,000

first_img‘Significant step’ But Germany, which has cautiously begun allowing shops to reopen, offered another glimmer of hope when it announced that human trials for a vaccine will start by next week.The trial, only the fifth to have been authorized worldwide, is a “significant step” in making a vaccine “available as soon as possible”, the country’s regulatory body said.With several months to go before a viable vaccine can be rolled out, more than half of humanity remains under some form of lockdown.Singapore extended its confinement order for a month to June 1, as the Asian city-state — which managed to keep its outbreak in check early on — has been hit by second-wave infections.The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned Americans to prepare for a more challenging second round of outbreaks, should it be mixed with seasonal flu infections.”There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Robert Redfield told The Washington Post.On Wednesday, Redfield urged Americans to “embrace the flu vaccine with confidence, as mitigating its effects would help the overall health battle.In South Africa, more than 73,000 extra troops were sent out to enforce a shutdown as authorities struggled to keep people indoors — particularly in overcrowded townships. With businesses shuttered and millions of jobs lost, the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said the virus crisis would hit the least privileged the hardest.It said the number of people suffering from acute hunger was projected to nearly double to 265 million this year.Standing in line in Bangkok’s historic quarter for food donations of rice, noodles, milk and curry packets, Chare Kunwong, a 46-year-old masseur, said: “If I wait for the government’s aid, then I’ll be dead first.” Health experts in the world’s biggest economy warned it could face a complicated second coronavirus wave if it dovetails with the seasonal flu this winter, as some US states moved to reopen select businesses.Nations around the world have been scrambling to fight the pandemic — which has killed more than 180,000 people and infected nearly 2.6 million worldwide — while desperately seeking ways to limit the devastating economic fallout.As some countries have moved to lift lockdown restrictions that have upended daily life around the globe, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a sober warning. “Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time,” Tedros told a virtual press conference. Topics : The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned that the coronavirus crisis will not end any time soon, with many countries only in the early stages of the fight, as the global death toll surpassed 180,000.The pandemic has sparked not only a health emergency, but a global economic rout, with businesses struggling to survive, millions left jobless, and millions more facing starvation.US President Donald Trump — with an eye on widespread unemployment and his re-election prospects in November — signed an executive order suspending the issuance of green cards for 60 days. ‘Wrong and unjust’ In the United States, Trump said Wednesday his order to suspend the issuance of green cards would “ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens.”The US recorded a further 1,738 deaths on Wednesday — fewer than the day before, but bringing its total number of fatalities since the outbreak began there to 46,583, by far the most of any country.It has also reported nearly 840,000 infections, and health care infrastructure, especially in hotspots like New York, has struggled to cope.”We must guard against a dangerous rebound” of the coronavirus “after all this death”, Trump told reporters.Protesters took to the streets again Wednesday — this time in Virginia’s state capital Richmond — to demand that stay-at-home orders be lifted so people can get back to work.But that demonstration came as experts revealed that the country’s first virus-related death came in February, weeks earlier than first reported. ‘Now they die alone’ Among those hardest hit economically during the crisis are millions of migrant workers who toil abroad to send money back home to their families.Remittances are expected to plunge by about 20 percent globally this year, the biggest decline in recent history, the World Bank said in a report on the money transfers that are lifelines to millions of families.The pandemic shutdowns mean even the bodies of some migrant workers cannot be sent home, and are instead being buried or cremated in the country where they die — often without any loved ones present.”Nobody comes anymore, nobody touches, nobody says goodbye,” said Ishwar Kumar, manager of a Hindu cremation ground in Dubai.Before the pandemic, people would come “to grieve and bring flowers. Now they die alone”. “Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics. And some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.”Worst-hit region Europe saw its death toll climb to another grim milestone of 110,000, while fatalities in Italy, the hardest hit country behind the United States, topped 25,000.Finland said it would maintain a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people through July.In Spain, which reported a slight increase for the second day running in the number of COVID-19 deaths, the government said it did not expect to lift its strict lockdown until mid-May.”We must be incredibly careful in this phase,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.last_img read more

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Whicker: 44 notes on 22 NBA teams, before the bubble season begins

first_imgBojan Bogdanovic, averaging 20.2 points, will miss the playoffs with a broken wrist.OKLAHOMA CITY (40-24): Chris Paul is shooting 48.4 percent, his best since 2010, at age 35.Ex-Clippers Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have combined to average 38.7 points.HOUSTON (40-24): Since Clint Capela was injured, Houston’s small lineup is 11-6 with wins over the Lakers and Utah and two over Boston.James Harden is launching 55.5 of his shots from behind the 3-point line, a career high.DALLAS (40-27): Mavericks are averaging 116.4 points, most since 1987.Luka Doncic ranks sixth in the league in scoring, fourth in assists and in free throw attempts.MEMPHIS (32-33): Six of the Grizzlies’ top nine scorers are in their first, second or third season in the league.Memphis is 26-17 since Dec. 4.PORTLAND (29-37): Damian Lillard is leading the NBA in minutes (36.9) and averaging 28.9 points.Center Jusuf Nurkic returns from a 16-month absence. Power forward Zach Collins, who has missed all but three games, is back, too.NEW ORLEANS (28-36): Brandon Ingram’s 24.3-point average is a six-point improvement over 2019, with the Lakers.The Pelicans are 10-9 since rookie Zion Williamson joined up.SACRAMENTO (28-36): In their first year with coach Luke Walton, the Kings won 10 of 15 games before the break.Backup center Richaun Holmes, on his third team in three seasons, is averaging 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in 28.8 minutes.SAN ANTONIO (27-36): The five-time champs will have their first losing season since 1997.The Spurs have held only two opponents under 100 points.PHOENIX (26-39): Among NBA starters, Devin Booker has the best free-throw percentage (91.6).Eight-year veteran Aron Baynes had never shot more than 61 threes in a season. He has 168 this season, making 35.1 percent.EASTERN CONFERENCEMILWAUKEE (53-12): Bucks have a plus-11.2 point differential and lead the league in scoring.No one but Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 10 or more field goals a game while shooting over 50 percent.TORONTO (46-18): The NBA champs are a factor even though Marc Gasol has played only 36 games, and only one starter has played 60.Without Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors lead the NBA in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.BOSTON (43-21): Kemba Walker has committed one offensive foul in 1,592 minutes.Jaylen Brown has hiked his scoring average from 13 to 20.4 this season.MIAMI (41-24): Undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn has started 62 games and averages 15.7 points.Undrafted second-year man Duncan Robinson is shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point land with 60 starts.INDIANA (39-26): Domantas Sabonis is fifth in the NBA in rebounds and leads all centers in minutes with 34.8 per game.Pacers take fewer 3-pointers than anyone but shoot 68.9 from 2-point range.PHILADELPHIA (39-26): At 25, Joel Embiid is working on his third consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound season.For the first since 1984-86, the 76ers are going for their third consecutive .600-plus season.BROOKLYN (30-34): The Nets are holding teams to a 44.2 field goal percentage. They haven’t done that in 14 seasons.They are 8-12 when Kyrie Irving plays.Related Articles Clippers rookies key overtime victory over Oklahoma City How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years ORLANDO (30-35): Steve Clifford, in his second season, is the Magic’s fifth coach since Stan Van Gundy was fired in 2013.Former first-overall pick Markelle Fultz (by Philadelphia) leads Orlando in assists (5.2 per game).WASHINGTON (24-40): Bradley Beal averages 30.5 points, a franchise high since Walt Bellamy’s 31.6 in 1962 when the Wizards were the Chicago Packers.What if Beal played against the Wizards, who gave up 150-plus in back-to-back games Jan. 26-28? They surrender 119.7 per game, worst among playoff teams. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Remember the NBA?If not, save these 44 facts on 22 teams, as the season bubbles up in Orlando July 30:LAKERS (49-14): LeBron James is launching a career-high 6.4 three-pointers and playing a career-low 34.8 minutes per game, but also leads the NBA in assists.The Lakers lead the NBA in blocks and have cut six-and-a-half points off last year’s defensive showing.center_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Clippers’ rhythm is missing but their spirits strong before playoff opener AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersCLIPPERS (44-20): They’re second in the West despite two losses to Sacramento and one loss apiece to Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix.Reggie Jackson has shot 45 percent from the 3-point line in his nine games.DENVER (43-22): Nikola Jokic is the only 20-point, 10-rebound averager in the Western Conference.Michael Porter, injured as a rookie, is averaging 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds off the bench.UTAH (41-23): Rudy Gobert averages two blocked shots per game but the Jazz ranks 29th in the league in blocks. 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Wellington Police Notes: Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015

first_imgWellington Police notes for Thursday, January 22, 2015•7:04 a.m. Officers investigated criminal deprivation of vehicle in the 1500 block N. Olive, Wellington. It was recovered and returned to owner.•9:17 a.m.  Amber D. Dorsey, 28, Wellington was arrested and confined on a Sumner County warrant for charges of burglary and theft.•11:37 a.m. Officers investigated a theft of weapon in the 700 block S. G, Wellington.•12:22 p.m. Officers investigated criminal damage to property in the 500 block S. F, Wellington.•4:30 p.m. Officers investigated identity theft in the 100 block E. Walnut, Wellington.•5:06 p.m. Officers investigated endangering a child in the 2000 block E. 16th, Wellington.•5:45 p.m. Officers took a report of found jewelry in the 800 block S. H, Wellington.•6:45 p.m. Officers took a report of lost wallet in the 1800 block E. 16th, Wellington.last_img read more

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Florida woman accused of killing boyfriend by zipping him up in suitcase

first_imgOrlando police say a woman is facing murder charges after allegedly zipping up her boyfriend inside a suitcase.On Monday police responded to a phone call reporting a man, Jorge  Torres, 42, dead.42-year-old Sarah Boone told police she put Torress in a suitcase during a game of hide-and-seek.Boone said they were drinking alcohol, and she passed out in her bed while he was still in the suitcase.Investigators searched her phone and found videos showing Torres yelling from inside the suitcase saying he couldn’t breathe. Boone can be heard laughing and saying, “that’s what I feel like when you cheat on me” and yelling obscenities.She is facing second-degree murder charges.Arrested: Sarah Boone, 42, for Second Degree Murder in the death of 42-year-old Jorge Torres Jr., who died after Boone zipped him into a suitcase, and didn’t return for hours. pic.twitter.com/JCHWG7WNkp— Orange County Sheriff’s Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) February 26, 2020last_img read more

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Five African American NFL head coaches fired

first_imgThis NFL season the following Black head coaches were fired: Marvin Lewis (Bengals, 6-19), Vance Joseph (Broncos, 6-10), Todd Bowles (Jets, 4-12), Hue Jackson (Browns, 7-8) and Steve Wilks (Cardinals, 3-13).The firings mean there are now only two Black head coaches in the NFL: Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and Steelers longtime head coach Mike Tomlin.Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-24. Associated PressThe firing of Wilks in Arizona after only one season won particular attention. In the NFL, many coaches fail in their first year yet remain employed. Though the NFL has made great improvements in hiring Black head coaches over the last twenty years as the result the Rooney Rule, the recent firings were sobering. The Rooney Rule mandates that NFL teams interview at last one minority candidate before making their final hiring decision.Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, front left, greets Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn after an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)Professional football is dominated by African American players, as over 70 percent of them are African American. Typically, players go on to become coaches but the overwhelming numbers on the field have yet to surface among the coaching ranks in the NFL. Many see the recent firings as ironic progress: There was a time when the firing of five African American coaches would have been inconceivable because there were none on the sidelines. However, thirty percent of NFL coaches were Black before the firings this season.Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, right, greets Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson after an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 33-18. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)Though one of the coaches fired, Hue Jackson, has one of the worst win/loss records in the modern NFL, many point to the fact that there haven’t been enough hired over a long enough time to conclude that the hiring and firing pattern is biased one way or the other. Still others say that management above the head coaching position is actually often to blame for failing results and losing records.From 2007-2008, Lane Kiffin went 5-15 with the Oakland Raiders. From 2000-2002, Dave Campo went 15-33 over two seasons. From 2006-2008, Rod Marinelli went 10-38, which included a 0-16 season, with the Detroit Lions.“Despite owning one of the league’s worst rosters, the Cardinals fired their coach anyway, as Bidwill scapegoated Wilks — who became only the 10th coach to be fired after only one season since 2000 — for the franchise’s failures,” wrote NFL writer for Yahoo News, Terez Paylor, regarding Wilks’ firing.New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)Writer Dave Zirin, who writes about race and sports often, wrote, “In a league 70% African American, there are now two (!) Black head coaches after today’s (firings). Shameful numbers. Failure of a Rooney Rule without teeth and owners who will nearly always bend towards whiteness.”[pullquote]“Not a good look for diversity today in the NFL. In 2006, when Commissioner Goodell was hired, there were seven minority coaches and four minority general managers. Today there are three minority HCs and 1 minority GM after Ozzie retires,” wrote Jim Trotter.[/pullquote]The regular season in the NFL ended on December 30. As more changes are made over the off season there is likely to be more Black head coaches added. But for now, the debate on the numbers will focus on the recent firing and whether those dismissed will find employment elsewhere for 2019.Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at [email protected] and on twitter at @LVBurke,This NFL season the following Black head coaches were fired: Marvin Lewis (Bengals, 6-19), Vance Joseph (Broncos, 6-10), Todd Bowles (Jets, 4-12), Hue Jackson (Browns, 7-8) and Steve Wilks (Cardinals, 3-13).The firings mean there are now only two Black head coaches in the NFL: Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and Steelers longtime head coach Mike Tomlin.Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-24. Associated PressThe firing of Wilks in Arizona after only one season won particular attention. In the NFL, many coaches fail in their first year yet remain employed. Though the NFL has made great improvements in hiring Black head coaches over the last twenty years as the result the Rooney Rule, the recent firings were sobering. The Rooney Rule mandates that NFL teams interview at last one minority candidate before making their final hiring decision.Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, front left, greets Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn after an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)Professional football is dominated by African American players, as over 70 percent of them are African American. Typically, players go on to become coaches but the overwhelming numbers on the field have yet to surface among the coaching ranks in the NFL. Many see the recent firings as ironic progress: There was a time when the firing of five African American coaches would have been inconceivable because there were none on the sidelines. However, thirty percent of NFL coaches were Black before the firings this season.Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, right, greets Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson after an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 33-18. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)Though one of the coaches fired, Hue Jackson, has one of the worst win/loss records in the modern NFL, many point to the fact that there haven’t been enough hired over a long enough time to conclude that the hiring and firing pattern is biased one way or the other. Still others say that management above the head coaching position is actually often to blame for failing results and losing records.From 2007-2008, Lane Kiffin went 5-15 with the Oakland Raiders. From 2000-2002, Dave Campo went 15-33 over two seasons. From 2006-2008, Rod Marinelli went 10-38, which included a 0-16 season, with the Detroit Lions.“Despite owning one of the league’s worst rosters, the Cardinals fired their coach anyway, as Bidwill scapegoated Wilks — who became only the 10th coach to be fired after only one season since 2000 — for the franchise’s failures,” wrote NFL writer for Yahoo News, Terez Paylor, regarding Wilks’ firing.New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)Writer Dave Zirin, who writes about race and sports often, wrote, “In a league 70% African American, there are now two (!) Black head coaches after today’s (firings). Shameful numbers. Failure of a Rooney Rule without teeth and owners who will nearly always bend towards whiteness.”[pullquote]“Not a good look for diversity today in the NFL. In 2006, when Commissioner Goodell was hired, there were seven minority coaches and four minority general managers. Today there are three minority HCs and 1 minority GM after Ozzie retires,” wrote Jim Trotter.[/pullquote]The regular season in the NFL ended on December 30. As more changes are made over the off season there is likely to be more Black head coaches added. But for now, the debate on the numbers will focus on the recent firing and whether those dismissed will find employment elsewhere for 2019.Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at [email protected] and on twitter at @LVBurke Five of the NFL’s seven African American head coaches were fired on December 31st. Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks was fired after just one season. The Cardinals’ record was 3-13 — the worst record in the league — but over the last 18 years, there have only been ten head coaches who were fired after only one year. Three of them were African American. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) greets Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis after an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)last_img read more