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Right-wing media whine after new Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo discussed diversity and racism at his introductory press conference

On January 17, the New England Patriots introduced Jerod Mayo as the organization’s new head coach, the first Black head coach in the history of the franchise. After Patriots owner and Trump ally Robert Kraft claimed he was “colorblind” at the introductory press conference, Mayo discussed the significance of his promotion and the importance of acknowledging diversity.

In response to Mayo’s comments, right-wing media retaliated by questioning Mayo’s ability to lead the team and decrying the Patriots’ future as a “woke” football team. The attacks come on the heels of a campaign to villainize corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, as well as repeated meltdowns over Taylor Swift and NFL player Travis Kelce’s relationship.

  • Mayo introduced as the new Patriots coach

    • At his introductory press conference, new Patriots coach Jerod Mayo makes remarks on diversity: “I do see color, because I believe if you don’t see color you can’t see racism.” [SB Nation Pats Pulpit, 1/17/24]

    For team owner Robert Kraft, however, the goal was not to diversify his club but rather to hire the best man for the job.

    “I’m really colorblind in terms of I know what I feel like on Sunday when we lose,” Kraft said. “I want to get the best people I can get. I chose the best head coach for this organization. He happens to be a man of color, but I chose him because I believe he’s best to do the job.”

    While innocent and seemingly not made with any malicious intent, Kraft’s comment about colorblindness did receive some quick pushback from his new coach.

    “You want your locker room to be pretty diverse, and you want the world to look like that. What I will say, though, is I do see color because I believe if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism,” Mayo said.

    “Whatever happens, Black, white, disabled person. Even someone with disabilities, for the most part people are like — when they’re young, they kind of make the spot hot. ... But what I would say is: no, I want you to be able to go up to those people and really understand those people. It goes back to whatever it is, Black, white, yellow, it really doesn’t matter, but it does matter so we can try to fix the problem that we all know we have.”

  • Right-wing media figures complain about Mayo's remarks

    • Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative student-oriented organization Turning Point USA posted that Mayo’s comment “lets white NFL players know they should avoid playing for him.” Kirk contested, “Actually if you don’t see color, you can’t PRACTICE racism.”  [Twitter/X, 1/17/24]

    • Blaze Media’s Jason Whitlock complained, “When you think ‘seeing’ racism is part of your life purpose.” [Twitter/X, 1/17/24]

    • After reading Mayo’s comments, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh said, “If you are a Patriots fan, it's hard to imagine a more discouraging thing to hear from the new head coach of your team.” On Twitter/X, Walsh complained Mayo was “another NFL meathead who thinks he needs to be some kind of social commentator.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 1/18/24, Twitter/X, 1/17/24]

    • Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec agreed with a Twitter/X post that falsely claimed Mayo said, “I hate white people, and you should too.” [Twitter/X, 1/17/24]

    • Former Fox News contributor Ben Carson and his wife Candy Carson posted, “It is absurd that these types of topics have found their way into modern day NFL press conferences.” They urged, “We need to end the ‘victim”’mentality that consumes this country.” [Twitter/X, 1/18/24]

    • Megyn Kelly re-posted a video of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles stating that “we don’t look at color,” captioned, “Well said coach….very well said.” [Twitter/X, 1/16/24]

    • Conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza said, “Color-blind doesn’t mean we literally don’t ‘see’ color. … We see those things, but they don’t make a difference in how we evaluate someone’s merit or character.” [Twitter/X, 1/18/24]

    • Reacting to the comments by Mayo, the Daily Wire's Michael Knowles went on a bizarre rant about how “white people are the only people who do not see color,” and claimed this is why one can supposedly “discriminate against [white people] by law and according to the mores of society.” [Media Matters, 1/18/24]

    • Outkick’s Charly Arnolt complained that Mayo is “trying to inject racism into the narrative” despite the NFL being based around “talent and merit.” She also argued that Mayo’s comments demonstrated that he does not understand that the Patriots football program is the “greatest organization in the NFL.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 1/18/24]

    • The Five co-host Jeanine Pirro asked, “Is a new season of wokeness beginning with the NFL?” Later in the segment, she also asked her co-host Dana Perino, “The Patriots are in need of a quarterback. Does Mayo go to Colin Kaepernick?” [Fox News, The Five, 1/18/24, 1/18/24]

    • Fox News host Jesse Watters noted that Mayo “seeing color is good when it comes to recruitment and hiring to get empathy and insight.” He concluded, “The more they focus on race, the less they’re focusing on X’s and O’s and then it just becomes a distraction.”  [Fox News, The Five, 1/18/24]

    • Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld griped that “if you see color everywhere, then you are going to think racism is everywhere.” He continued, “You become a servant to single variable thinking, which turns your world into a very small, suffocating space.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/18/24]

    • Piers Morgan said that he would also “be getting my excuses in very quickly” following the exit of previous coach Bill Bellicheck, implying that Mayo would claim any bad press during his tenure as head coach is motivated by racism. He asked, “Why make it about race?”  [Fox News, The Five, 1/18/24]