The first month of 2021 left sports fans shaking their heads over unexpected combatants scrambling for a berth in Super Bowl LV next week, Black talent ignored in scramble for new NFL head coaches and in mourning over the anniversary of a tragic loss in basketball.

The 55th Super Bowl will feature, for the first time, a team competing for pro football’s crown in its home stadium, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa.

Meanwhile, the annual search for replacements for dismissed head coaches is devoid of Black candidates, despite an NFL rule calling for Black candidates to be considered.

And basketball fans observed the first anniversary of the helicopter crash on a California mountain that claimed the life of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others.

WFT Makes History

The Washington Football Team recently hired Martin Mayhew as the new general manager and promoted coaching intern Jennifer King to full-time offensive coaching assistant.

Washington now becomes the first NFL team to have a Black team president and GM. King is now the first Black Female full-time coach in NFL history.

Mayhew has led a decorated career with 20 years of experience in the front office as an executive in the NFL who played for Washington from 1982-1992 and won a championship (Super Bowl XXVI) as a starting cornerback.

“Martin is a proven general manager who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization,” said Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera. “He will be an integral part of running the daily football operations and will allow me the opportunity to focus more on coaching. He impressed both myself and Mr. Snyder during the interview process, and we both believe he will be a tremendous fit here.”

King was a former Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) wide receiver before joining the team, winning the 2018 WFA National Championship with the New York Sharks, and spent time with the D.C. Divas in 2019.

“Jennifer is a bright young coach,” Rivera said. “Her familiarity with my expectations as a coach and my firsthand knowledge of her work ethic and preparation were big factors in bringing her [here].”

D.C. United Drafts Three Playmakers

United has selected Clemson University forward Kimarni Smith with the fourth overall pick, Wake Forest University defender Michael DeShields (fifth overall) and Stanford University defender Logan Panchot (32nd overall) in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft presented by Adidas on Jan. 21.

Smith scored 26 goals and recorded 11 assists in 63 appearances, and started 43 games during his collegiate career. 

DeShields is a talented defender who started 21 of 22 games last season, leading their defense to an average of only 0.72 goals conceded per match and earned a Second-Team All-South Region nomination.

United acquired the fifth overall pick from Atlanta United in exchange for $125,000 in General Allocation Money in an earlier trade.

Finally, Panchot scored three goals and recorded 11 assists in 62 appearances (59 starts) for Stanford University from 2017 to 2019 and was a team captain last season.

The Black-and-Red acquired the 32nd overall pick from Atlanta United in an earlier trade.

During his final year, Panchot was tied for the team lead with eight assists and was part of a defense that ranked 10th in the country in team goals-against.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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