Dear NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue,

Paul Wong
Luke Smith

It has been a long time since we’ve chatted, my old friend. What an exciting time it is for the NFL! We are on the verge of seeing Emmitt Smith make history and break Walter Payton’s rushing record. What a thrill.

Unfortunately, Paul, my excitement over seeing Dallas’ second favorite son (Roger Staubach forever) about to eclipse a record of nearly Ripkenian proportions is not the impetus behind this letter. If it was, I would rave about Emmitt’s career and the former glory of the Dallas Cowboys, long since gone from the NFL stage. Soon, old friend, we will be able to laugh about the St. Louis Rams, as we do now over the Cowboys.

But, now I, you and the NFL (America’s greatest game) have nothing to smile about.

Accompanying this letter is a report I believe you will find very interesting concerning the NFL’s employment policy regarding white athletes at the wide receiver position. The report, titled “White Wide-outs and the National Football League: Historical brilliance, recent failure – the white man’s quest for respect at the white wide receiver position,” outlines in detail a study I have been conducting on the NFL practice for employing a diverse pair of starting wide receivers in the NFL.

In order for the league to progress, it needs to be diverse at the wide receiver positions. Too often the wide receiver position is dominated by black athletes. My study shows conclusively that white wide receivers are being held to higher standards, despite decent to OK performance.

The study cites specific performances from players like the Denver Broncos’ Ed McCaffery, who in a healthy stretch between 1998-2000, averaged over 1,000 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in the same stretch. He is a fine example of a startling success at the wide receiver position.

When given the opportunity, white athletes at the wide receiver position have done their jobs dutifully. However, with poor performances, they are also pulled quicker from lineups and benched. The tolerance for mediocre to sub-par performances often gets top-tier talent like Steve Tasker relegated to special teams duty.

Incidentally, Tasker thrived on special teams and deserves a Sportscentury on ESPN. See what you can do about that too, Paul.

I would be remiss to write you, old friend, if I didn’t include a few solutions. After all, when we disagreed on the strike issues in 1987, I offered some candid solutions to the Free Agency crisis. Things sure did work out for the best, didn’t they?

In order to get more white athletes at the wide receiver position, the NFL needs to crack down on team’s roster arrangements and depth charts. This is not to suggest that micromanaging each team’s roster is something that should even be examined. Instead, teams demonstrating a diverse starting combo (read: Pair) of wide receivers for the duration of the season, barring injury (we can’t control torn MCLs and ACLs like we used to) should be rewarded.

The source of the reward, would be a first-round draft choice. Teams demonstrating a commitment to diversity at the position would receive an additional first-round draft choice. Further, teams would be penalized for not establishing a diverse wide receiving corps, the penalty would be a third-round pick. Failure to have white receiver candidates in training camp would result in the team’s loss of their first-round draft choice.

According to the plan included with this letter, team general managers can choose to opt out of this agreement, but the result would be their forfeit of a first-round draft choice.

With these steps being enacted, the NFL can look forward to a diverse prosperity at the wide receiver position.

My report is being filed in conjunction with Johnnie Cochran Jr.’s report “Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities.” Together, Mr. Cochran and I are striving for a more diverse NFL front office and wide receiving corps.

I hope in the near future, you, Mr. Cochran and myself will be able to sit down and discuss this matter. It would be a shame if this comes to litigation, I know the NFL is reasonable.

Just like Steve Tasker would’ve said, “We’re asking for an opportunity to compete.”

Hope to hear from you soon, Paul.

Luke Smith can be reached at lukems@umich.edu.

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