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“We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the NFL, yet we have only four head coaches of color”
Rod Graves, who spent decades as an NFL general manager and league executive and now runs the NFL’s coaching diversity initiative, the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said it best:
“For all the hoopla that football has become in this country, that kind of progress, or lack of, is shameful.”
If Jay-Z — the man that brought his own brand of champagne to the Golden Globes on Sunday — is listening then he has to put down whatever billion dollar endeavor he has cooking and use his newfound allegiance with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to address NFL ownership’s inability to hire from the pool of qualified African-American coaching candidates.
The NFL hit an all-time high of 8 minority coaches in 2011 and again in 2018, but has failed to move beyond that point.
And coincidentally, since Colin Kaepernick took a knee and all hell broke loose back in 2016, the number of minority head coaches in the NFL has dwindled to four; Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Anthony Lynn (San Diego Charges) and Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins)
Failure By The Numbers
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave the NFL its lowest grade ever in November after the league saw drastic reductions in the number of women and minorities hired by teams. In their report, the institute’s director, Richard Lapchick, slammed the NFL for failing to address persistent diversity issues and said there was a consistent lack of Black executives in positions of true power.
When you look at the demographics, it’s embarrassing,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent told a New York Times reporter at The Quarterback Summit, an NFL-organized event held at Morehouse College and designed to give Black coaches a place to network with other Black coaches.
The NFL Black Head Coaching Purge
Last season five of the seven African-American coaches in the NFL were fired and replaced with white coaches. Anyway you slice it — even if all of these coaches “deserved” to be fired as some will insist — the optics are foul. They reflect poorly on the NFL’s efforts to heal its riff with the Black community or compromise its iron white power structure.
There are just three job openings left before we can say that Black coaches were totally shut out of the coaching carousel for 2020. The NFL doesn’t feel a need to address it because Kaepernick is gone and ratings are high, regardless of the complaints about diversity.
Black Monday itself was relatively mild this season. As far as Black coaches getting canned, well after last season’s Black coaching purge that saw the NFL’s African-American coaching ranks sliced from seven to three, there weren’t any coaches of color to really fire.
Rivera was quickly swept up by the Washington Redskins, but the New York Giants, according to Jay Glazer, have interviewed several Black coaching candidates. Unfortunately, the franchise which has never had a head coach of color in its history and is reportedly enamored with Baylor HC Matt Rhule. Rhule has an unimpressive 47-42 coaching record at Temple and Baylor and spent one season as NY Giants assistant O-Line coach in 2012.
The Panthers also have Rhule as a top option and Patriots offensive guru Josh McDaniels is always a celebrity pick for the right situation.
Best of The Blacks
Kansas City Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy and former Dallas Cowboys secondary coach and passing coordinator Kris Richard — who interviewed Thursday with New York Giants co-owner/president John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman, and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams — are the hottest Black coaching commodities on the market right now.
In reality, teams should be banging down Bieniemy’s door like they did for previous coaches who were considered offensive geniuses.
Bieniemy not has the pedigree as a college and pro player, but he’s been designing offenses for the NFL’s most lethal compilation of point scorers in the game today.
Under Richard’s direction, the 2019 Cowboys’ passing defense finished 10th in the NFL, allowing just 223.5 yards per game. Dallas’ 23 passing touchdowns were the eighth fewest allowed in the league.
Before arriving in Texas, Richard spent six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks on Pete Carroll’s staff; three seasons as the Seahawks’ defensive backs coach (2012-14) and three seasons as defensive coordinator (2015-17).
Kris Richard vibes in LA https://t.co/2Qy71HB3k9
— 🥶 (@YoungKoopa03) January 6, 2020
Former Bengals HC Marvin Lewis also got a token look from the Cowboys to satisfy Rooney Rule mandates.( Lewis is forever the consummate company guy).
On ESPN this morning Bart Scott lauded Stanford head coach David Shaw, who, in addition to the legendary job he has done building Stanford’s football program, has NFL experience working with the Baltimore Ravens on the offensive side of the ball.
Shaw’s name hasn’t been hot since Andrew Luck left and after proclaiming to be comfortable in college, he may be finally ready to test his leadership acumen at the NFL level.
Diversity Numbers Represent NFL Bigotry
In a time when people are so senstitive to systemic racism and oppression, NFL owners continue to try and maintain a racial pecking order.
Unless Black folks are thrown a life preserver like last season when the Dolphins hired Brian Flores from Brooklyn in the 12th hour, there’s going to be a bunch social media outbursts questioning the NFL’s diversity efforts as it pertains to positions of leadership.
Four coaches of color in the entire 32 team NFL isn’t going to cut it.
There’s too much talent out here. As far as the Giants go, developing Daniel Jones is most important and Bieniemy has proven that his offensive mind is lethal and can elevate his QB. Patrick Mahomes is living proof of the former Colorado star’s ability to synchronize with his QB’s tendencies as well as HC Andy Reid’s offensive flow.
It’s hard not to theorize that if Bieniemy was a white coach he would have already been snatched up by some squad. He’d be a tremendous upgrade over Fredie Kitchens in Cleveland. So would Shaw for that matter. Baker Mayfield needs a veteran who can calm him the heck down and teach him the trade properly so that he can maximize his skills and leadership expectations.
The NFL owners don’t mince their words. All you have to do is look and listen. This is an issue that Jay Z needs to be attacking and pressuring if he wants to really make a difference and gain back the trust of the people who feel that his deal with the NFL was strictly for personal gain.