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“Legacy of Exclusion”

Excellence in Opinion Writing

The Washington Post, 2023

Author(s): Jerry Brewer


Jerry Brewer approaches sports journalism with a mantra: “The game is not the story. The game is a platform to tell a story.” That ethos is on full display in the commentary Brewer contributed to The Washington Post’s “Blackout” project examining the National Football League’s dismal record of hiring Black coaches. 

In a collection of richly reported columns, Brewer presented a critique of American systemic racism through the dissection of one of the nation’s most powerful institutions. The work showed how the Black experience in football represents the Black experience in America.  

Using history, empathy, thought leadership and reporting exclusives, Brewer provided an instructive, human answer to the question of why the NFL has such a long-standing problem hiring Black coaches. 

His columns took readers inside an arcane and flawed system intended to dissuade accountability. They revealed the heartache and shame of those shortcomings. 

Brewer balanced passion and compassion in his work, beginning with a poignant portrait of systemic racism; continuing with a complicated call for allyship in a coaching profession that lacks job security; and closing with penetrating thoughts about why America’s most addictive game is a sobering avatar of its endless race problem. 

No columnist before Brewer has framed the discussion and challenged the NFL with such a comprehensive criticism.