Placeholder canvas

Statement by attorney Peter Pattakos on behalf of wrongly terminated Brooklyn (Ohio) High School football coach Tim McFarland

September 28, 2023

For immediate release/contact attorney Peter Pattakos: 330.285.2998,

My client Tim McFarland is shocked and dismayed at the series of events that led to Brooklyn City School officials demanding his resignation as head football coach on Monday. These events, which have been subject to a flood of local and national press defaming McFarland as racist and anti-Semitic, result from offensive linemen on the Brooklyn varsity football team having used the call “Nazi” to alert an oncoming blitz from the opposing defense at last Friday’s game against Beachwood High School.

Anyone with experience playing American football knows that players on both sides of the ball routinely bark coded single-word calls at the line to change play-calls or formations before the ball is snapped. Peyton Manning’s “Omaha” call is a famous example of this. Likewise, the term “Nazi” has been a commonly used line-call by football players in Ohio and presumably all over the U.S. for decades, including at the high-school level, to alert teammates of an oncoming blitz by the opposing defense. McFarland’s Brooklyn team has used this line call since he became the school’s head coach in 2021, and other teams he has coached for had used the term for years before that. I remember this term being used in this way by high-school football teams when I played for Revere High in the 1990s. And this can be further verified by the attached excerpt from a handout provided at a popular coaching clinic put on by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association in the 1990s that lists the term “Nazi” as among five “blitz control” calls, and describes it as a “call to alert the QB that an outside cover person is moving into a blitz position.

The notion that the use of this term in last Friday’s football game implies any anti-Semitism or intent to offend on the part of McFarland or any of the Brooklyn High players, coaches, or community is not only false but absurdly so. The term “Nazi” is by no means an anti-Semitic slur. As a matter of historical fact, the term “Nazi” is well known to describe a notorious German political party that, after coming to power in Germany, employed aggressive military attacks known as “blitzkriegs.” The term “blitz” has long been a commonly employed term in the militaristic sport of American football, which is derived from this Nazi-era German military term, to describe similarly aggressive tactics by defensive players. A call of “Nazi” at the line of scrimmage of a football game is to warn teammates of an oncoming danger, just as one would have warned of Nazis on the warpath in the 1930s and 1940s.

While McFarland is mindful of the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the holocaust leading up to World War II, the idea that someone would be offended by hearing the commonly used pass-protection call “Nazi” at an American football game had not occurred to him until his counterparts on the Beachwood sideline brought the issue to his attention in the second quarter of last Friday’s game.

At that point, McFarland immediately instructed his team to stop using the term, and told the Beachwood coaches that he would personally apologize to any players who were offended. The Beachwood coaches told him that an apology would not be necessary, and the game then continued to completion.

That should have been the end of this story. The fact that it was not is nothing short of absurd, and represents an especially unfortunate example of political correctness run amok. Throughout recorded human history there have been atrocities committed by various groups of people against other groups. In no other context do we purport to ban and punish references to these groups. For example, as a proud Greek-American I cannot imagine becoming offended at the mention of the Turkish people who slaughtered millions of Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians only a few decades before the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Should Mongolian grills be banned from the U.S. and Mongolian beef removed from all restaurant menus due to the atrocities committed by Ghengis Khan? Should every American football coach, player, or fan who uses the word “blitz” lose their jobs and be tarred as anti-Semites as well? Seemingly so to those at the so-called “Anti-Defamation League” whose real mission seems to be to defame as many people as they can by weaponizing baseless accusations of anti-Semitism to drive fundraising for their own profit and perceived political benefit.

McFarland—who has been a well-respected high-school football coach in Northeast Ohio for more than four decades—is also disappointed in the leaders of Brooklyn High School for demanding his resignation despite knowing he is a decent man who neither intended nor caused any harm to anyone involved in these events. He prays for a better world where common sense can be restored and such issues are not blown beyond all reasonable proportion.

Finally, it is especially ironic that a representative of the Anti-Defamation League was quoted in a New York Times report on this story as having “offered to serve as a resource” to Brooklyn City Schools to “promote understanding and tolerance.” Where was the “understanding and tolerance” with respect to McFarland and the students in his charge who did no more than use a long-established football term right out of an old and commonly used playbook? Now a group of kids at a local public-school are left without their beloved head coach, leader, and mentor in the middle of their football seasons. Those responsible—especially the Beachwood politicians who are using this incident to score cheap political points for themselves—should be ashamed of themselves. McFarland is weighing all legal options available to him against those who caused this extremely damaging and defamatory firestorm.

* * *

Update: Former Brooklyn head football coach speaks out after forced resignation for “Nazi” play call