White Men Are Still Failing Up Into NFL Head Coaching Gigs

With six of the eight NFL head coach job openings secured by white males, there’s a good chance no Black coaches will be hired.

NFL owners eradicated most of the African-American head coaches this offseason. Six of the eight gigs have already been filled by men whose resumes (with the exception of Bruce Arians) lack actual head coaching experience. It seems the NFL owners are attempting to whitewash a head coaching crop that has gotten too diverse for them.

With the Jets expecting to announce the hiring of Adam Gase, there are two openings left in Cincinnati and Miami. Black coaches have a great shot to land jobs with one of those franchises. The Bengals are reportedly listing Vance Joseph, Hue Jackson, and Kansas City OC Eric Bienemy as their leading candidates.

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Three of the four leading candidates for the Dolphins job are also Black; Dallas Cowboys DB coach Kris Richard, New England linebackers coach Brian Flores, and Bieniemy. Maybe a team takes a chance on Bieniemy after a few weekends of watching Patrick Mahomes Jr. dispense playoff hell. Then again, the developing hiring pattern makes that unlikely.

The recent hirings of NFL head coaches are unsurprisingly all white, but still a bit perplexing. When a team fires a coach, the objective is to upgrade. Most of these hires look like shots in the dark.

By stats alone, we’re supposed to believe that not one Black head coaching candidate impressed owners enough to get the job? After years of incremental progress —  in one offseason swoop — viable Black coaching candidates became Rooney Rule tokens with no real opportunity for employment.

Say word that Todd Bowles is no better than a defensive coordinator.

White Wash 

Not since 2014 had an NFL franchise hired a coach directly from college. But Tuesday, the Arizona Cardinals appointed former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury to be their head coach.

Kingsbury is credited with identifying and signing Patrick Mahomes Jr., who was mildly recruited out of high school.

With everyone trying to find the next Sean McVay, Kingsbury, who is known as an innovative, offensive guru, is the guy Arizona wants to mold Josh Rosen.

Kingsbury, 39, compiled an unimpressive 35-40 record in six seasons with Texas Tech. He wasn’t posting double-digit wins, winning major bowl games, finishing in the Top 5 in the country or producing Heisman-winning QBs like Kevin Sumlin did when he was at Houston and Texas A&M.

In six years as Aggies coach, Sumlin was 51-26. In fact, Kingsbury worked on Sumlin’s staff and gets much of the credit for Johnny Manziel’s success. But instead of getting that NFL dream offer, Sumlin chose to go to a weaker Arizona program where he stumbled to just the second losing season of his 10-year career.

Things could have been different for Sumlin. Back in 2013, he reportedly turned down some NFL offers, but if a Jon Gruden-like opportunity ever came Sumlin’s way, he would have taken it a long time ago.

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After nine seasons and four playoff appearances with the Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, Herm Edwards coached his last game in 2008.  It took him a decade to get another coaching offer with Arizona State, but he never coached in the NFL again.

Lovie Smith became the first black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl in 2007.  Today, he’s toiling at a terrible Illinois program where he’s 9-27 since taking over in 2016. Smith went 81-63 in nine years with the Chicago Bears and lost the first all-black head coach face-off in Superbowl history to Tony Dungy. He was building something with Jameis Winston in Tampa when the Bucs cut him loose after a four-game improvement in his second season.

Smith’s a proven winner who doesn’t even get mentioned anymore.

Remember Raheem Morris ? He was a 33-year-old rising star on the head coaching scene when he took over in Tampa. He won 10 games in his second season in 2010. Morris was fired after the 2011 season.  Now 42 years old, he has never gotten another head coaching opportunity, which is just foul. He’s looking like a career coordinator.

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Remember Ray Rhodes? His first two seasons in Philly were 10-win seasons. He took the Green Bay Packers job after Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre won a Super Bowl. In 1999, he went 8-8 in his first season with the Packers. He was subsequently fired, destroyed in the media and never given another head coaching opportunity.

The coaching carousel gets everybody, but it’s especially hard on Black coaches. That’s just facts.

Inexperienced Matt LaFleur doesn’t have Jim Caldwell’s shiny resume, but the Packers still chose LaFleur over Caldwell to replace the departed Mike McCarthy.

The Cleveland Browns hiring Freddie Kitchens —  a guy who has never been a head coach or a full-time offensive coordinator  — doesn’t make much sense. Obviously, Baker Mayfield is now running the show in Cleveland.

Denver hired Vic Fangio. He’s a long-time defensive coordinator and at 60 he’s the opposite of young.

John Elway continues to make old school moves in a new era. Elway admitted that he failed to provide Vance Joseph with the tools he needed to win in a tough division. Then he proceeded to fire the 46-year-old after just two seasons to bring in Fangio, which bucks the current trend of hiring young, offensive minds.

Why not just stay with Joseph and get him some better talent? Instead they fired him and now, assuming he’s not hired by the Bengals, he could be headed to NY to reunite with Gase as the Jet’s defensive coordinator. The two had last paired together in 2016 in Miami, leading the team to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance.

But once again, no second shot at a head coaching job.

This NFL head coach jobs are dwindling. For now, we have to wait and see if Black coaches get totally shut out of the coaching carousel once again.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.