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Issue 17 Out Now

So Little Progress: More Black Representation Needed

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Beinemy(USA TODAY PHOTO/ Mathew Emmons)

The most popular sport in America has a hiring problem, the NFL has continued its such rich tradition of slightly if ever hiring executives and/or coaches that match the faces of the men who put their livelihoods on the line every given Sunday.

Black players make up 70% of the league but are generally governed by predominantly white front office, head coach, not to mention chairman. The Rooney Rule was instituted in 2003 as a result of the firings of Dennis Green from the Minnesota Vikings, his only losing season in a decade and Tony Dungy who at the time of his firing from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a winning record. Rule states that the league as a whole is required to interview one or more minority candidates for head coaching vacancies or absences.

In a perfect world, more than likely such policy wouldn’t have to exist if team owners weren’t all white billionaires but in reality let’s face it, for black people were playing catch-up because of 400 years of years of racial injustice and oppression. On the other hand one person or family doesn’t have to own the team outright, there’s ownership groups that own sports team. In theory ownership groups would be the route most black or nonwhite people take in an attempt to purchase a team, but the problem is when teams go up for sale Sports League has a committee or Board of Governors where each majority owner votes on allowing the sale to take place.

The NFL has made progress in certain areas when it comes to the field of play. Black quarterbacks who decades ago were deemed not smart enough to play the position are looked at as normal now more than ever. Meanwhile over the past three hiring cycles the hiring of black or minority coaches and executives is still not the status quo. Could the owners in America’s highest rated sports be prejudiced? One cannot say, yet we do see that representation continues to be an issue here. As of now, the year 2021 three black general managers run NFL teams in a league where 32 franchises exist. Atlanta’s Falcons Terry Fontenot was hired a couple days ago making him the third. In Miami the Dolphins are the only team in the entire league whose front office matches the faces on the field. General Manager Andrew Berry and Head Coach Brian Flores both black men just led the Dolphins to one of its best seasons in years while doing so in a rebuilding year. Chris Grier, general general of the Cleveland Browns did even better. Under his stewardship the Browns had their first playoff game in 19 years.

Entering the 2020–2021 NFL season only four minorities head coaches exist, three were black males. Brian Flores, Mike Tomlin who has coached the Pittsburgh Steelers for 11 years and won a super bowl while becoming only the second black coach to ever do so. Anthony Lynn, who was fired after a disastrous season in Los Angeles by the Chargers, and Ron Rivera, the only Latin head coach in the NFL led the Washington Football Team to the playoffs while battling cancer.

As the season waned there were seven head coaching vacancies, four have been taken by white males and one minority in Robert Saleh who become the first Muslim coach in NFL history and now coaches the New York Jets. There are two remaining jobs available, Houston and Philadelphia. Over the past three hiring cycles there have been 19 head coaching jobs open but yet only two have been black or minority.

Eric Beiniemy offensive coordinator for the best team in football and defending NFL champion Kansas City Chiefs, has interviewed for nearly every coaching job available the past two years and most likely won’t be hired for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile throughout the process there have been leaks from so-called sources that have put out information that he did terribly and wasn’t as communicative in his Interview with the Atlanta Falcons. Steve Wyche of NFL Network reported the complete opposite.

“Prepared, knew everything about the team, had a great plan and is a bonafide candidate,” the source said. The source said Falcons officials are furious about reports that Bieniemy, 51, did not interview well and “absolutely refute” those reports,” Wyche said.

We’ll never know who leaked the poor information about Bienimy, but in competing to get hired to become a head coach, this is yet another stepping stone and hurdle for black coaches to overcome.

The NFL implemented a new resolution in November of 2020 for teams that develop minority coaches or executives who then go on to become head coaches or general managers elsewhere to be compensated with draft picks as a reward.

As the NFL hiring cycle is nearing its end, it’s right to say the resolution clearly hasn’t worked as of yet. Maybe next year or the year after that, I wouldn’t hold my breath. 18 years the Rooney Rules have been in effect for the right to be interviewed for job vacancies for black and minorities. Only two black men are active head coaches. With each new ratification to amend rules, that still doesn’t show any success, only gives credence to what logical thinking fair people already know…there’s a race problem within the NFL.


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