The NFL & Racism: Black Coaches

I love football and I love watching NFL games. From the aerial assaults of the passing game to the grueling pounding of the running game, from a stingy defenses to the surprise return games, I’ve been a fan for nearly 30 years. And like most fans, I have the team(s) that I love, and those I hate (sorry Steelers, but you’re #1 on my hate-list *grin*).
With all the ups of the game, the rivalries, the dynasties, etc., there’s been a problem with at least one aspect of the game – the hiring of black coaches.
Yes, minorities DO get hired, but the process of hiring one seems low on the totem pole for most (if not, all) teams. At the end of the season, there’s usually a handful of head-coaching vacancies available for veteran and rookie coaches to make a bid for. Yet, you’d be hard-pressed to see new coaches, or assistant coaches of color getting a seemingly fair shot. But this wasn’t always the case – as the problem was worse, prior to the “Rooney Rule.”
Since that time, three black coaches have played in the Superbowl, with Superbowl XLI being the first and only Superbowl where the participating coaches were black. Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin are both SuperBowl winners.
So with that initial success, why aren’t more NFL owners fighting for that magic. It seems that color has no bearing on one’s ability to win the top brass of the league; yet, so many veteran and college coaches who are black either get an interview because of the Rooney Rule, or gets passed over altogether.
As stated in an article by The Atlantic: “…only three of the NFL’s 32 teams have black head coaches. In the past three years, 19 head-coaching positions were available, but just two black coaches filled those openings.” NFL owners are clearly in no rush of having a black head coach running operations for a football team. It’s just okay to be a player, but any aspirations of running a team becomes a virtual pipe dream. But this issue cannot be solved by any affirmative action. It needs to be a willing and voluntary action put forth by the organization.
There are plenty of cities that can set an example when the time comes for a coaching change. Places like Detroit, Houston, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, and that’s just to point out a few.
These areas have good black populations, where having a head coach who is qualified can make a powerful statement on and off the field. Players already make contributions to the neighborhoods to which they play in. It’s time for an influx of more black head coaches to get better opportunities. Not a preferred treatment, but a legitimate shot at the job. By doing so, you make a notch closer to eradicating racism in one of the top sports in America. And, as much as I can’t stand the Steelers, much kudos to the team giving their black head coach an opportunity, who in turn brought the team another trophy back in Superbowl XLIII. I sincerely hope it doesn’t take forever for the NFL to see some talented black coaches become the Lombardis, Reids, or Bellechicks of the new day, but time will tell. We’re waiting on you, NFL owners. Tick tock.

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