A breakdown of everything wrong with Hue Jackson’s statement defending his hiring of Art Briles

Hue Jackson wants you to know that he has forgiven disgraced former coach Art Briles.

Hue Jackson wants you to know that he has forgiven disgraced former coach Art Briles.
Image: Getty Images

You know you shouldn’t have hired someone if you have to release a statement days after you hired them to explain why you hired them.

On Monday morning, Hue Jackson — the owner of a 20.5 winning percentage as an NFL head coach — announced, through his foundation, why he hired disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles as his offensive coordinator at Grambling State University. The move was a shock to the college football world, as Briles was fired from Baylor in 2016 in connection with team cover-ups of rapes. It was also a gut punch to HBCUs, as Jackson overlooked worthy Black offensive coordinators to go with someone like Briles, whom he’d been advocating for since he was fired in Waco.

“I truly believe [Briles] is going to get back to doing what he does at some point in time,’’ Jackson predicted six years ago. “We’ve all been kind of knocked down before, I have, too. I’ve been unfairly judged before and judged correctly, too. I try not to do that with people. I try to take people for face value and I just know I’ve met him and have talked to him extensively and whatever’s happened at Baylor, I’m not condoning or him being here says that we condone anything.’’

The hiring of Briles was so upsetting that Doug Williams — the former two-time head coach and the program’s most iconic player — has halted his support.

“I’m not a fan at all. I’m very, very disappointed in Grambling, I really am,” Williams told the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. “I talked to the AD a couple times. They knew where I stood, but they did it and if that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. I’m out.”

“Oh, no. I can’t do that. No, no, no. If I support them, I condone it,” he added.

But despite all that, Briles is still on staff as Jackson has been forced to release public declarations supporting him from his foundation that’s, ironically, “supporting efforts to comeback Human Trafficking.” And since Jackson still doesn’t understand why his decision has infuriated so many people, here’s a breakdown of why his statement is pure trash.

“The recent hiring of Art Briles as a member of the Grambling State University football staff has caused confusion and concerns that we would like to address.”

Jackson appears unable to understand why a man who served as head coach of a football team at a university that was involved in one of the vilest sex scandals in the history of college sports would cause “confusion and concern” on a college campus. This means that he not only lacks self-awareness and common sense, but he vehemently believes that Briles’ skill level is worth the horrid baggage that comes with him. And, despite the claims of a former Baylor student who alleged that over 50 girls had been sexually assaulted and raped by more than 30 players during a four-year span, Briles denied knowledge of his players’ crimes, but admitted to mistakes while at Baylor.

“There were some bad things that happened under my watch. And for that, I’m sorry. … I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m going to learn. I’m going to get better,” he told ESPN in 2016.

“The Hue Jackson Foundation has been dedicated to fighting against ALL forms of sexual abuse and exploitation as well as other forms of racial and social bias. We have a clear understanding of the role that coaches and others who have a position of trust play in the lives of those they meet. We also know and understand the process of identifying risks, helping others to heal, and the importance of prevention. We believe that through the hiring of Coach Briles and the well-developed programs we have in place, this hire will be instrumental in teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”

This is the most insulting part of the statement, as Jackson thinks we’re all stupid, or he’s gambling on the dream that his team will be so good this season that this story will fall to the wayside. He actually wants us to believe that hiring Briles — a man who worked at a place in which every adult in the room turned a blind eye to rape allegations, some of which led to convictions, and mismanaged how they should be reported and handled — “will be instrumental in teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures.” This is absurd. It’s like if a cannabis dispensary owner hired a “reformed crackhead” to manage inventory because “they know what to look for” if something comes up missing.

“This recent hire of Coach Briles is a testament to the importance of these key factors:

Forgiveness: We believe that all are deserving of forgiveness and without it, healing can’t begin.

Redemption: Redemption follows forgiveness. Going from surviving an experience into thriving through new experiences require a restoration of faith and an opportunity for improvement.

Enlightenment: It is our own experiences that give us the wisdom to teach others how to live in a world of respect and honor.”

Forgiveness, redemption, and enlightenment are all things that human beings need as none of us are perfect. But, have the women and the families that forever changed due to what happened at Baylor granted Briles forgiveness, or does Jackson think that his job?

Briles should be able to make a living doing something in football somewhere, it just doesn’t mean that it should take place on a college campus, especially at an HBCU. Briles worked overseas after Baylor and was somehow allowed to coach high school football in Texas. With the return of the USFL, there could be an “offensive consultant” role that he could fill for a team. Just anything to keep him away from a college or university.

And in terms of enlightenment, we still haven’t heard enough from Briles to know if he’s been “enlightened.”

As we move forward together with Coach Briles, we ask that people keep in mind that no matter your views on this topic, please remember that people can and often do become re-traumatized and re-victimized by statements which may or may not be accurate. We will continue to support Coach Briles and all victims of assault, violence, social and racial injustices and we will continue to provide equal opportunity for healing for everyone. 

The last sentence of this statement is why problems don’t get solved. It’s impossible to support victims while also protecting and supporting the people that victimized them or were a part of the system that harmed them. And to make things worse, by Monday afternoon, Jackson’s foundation, via its Twitter account, was going back and forth with journalists who had questions about the organization’s monetary intentions.

When Art Briles was hired last week, the story was about how Hue Jackson could hire somebody like him. Now it feels like the story should be about why Jackson isn’t fit to run a football program or a foundation.

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