The NFL’s double standard for black coaches exposed again

Despite the NFL’s best efforts to introduce and legislate more diversity through the Rooney Rule, it’s the same old process and the same old faces. In a league where approximately 70% of the players are black, there is currently one black head coach (Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh). That’s half the number of those fired this offseason — former Patriots assistant Brian Flores was fired by the Dolphins and the Texans dumped David Culley after one season.

The previous four head coaching hiring cycles produced 27 job postings; three of them went to black coaches. None of these coaches are still employed, two have only obtained one season (Culley and Steve Wilks in Arizona in 2018).

Despite eight coaching openings this offseason, it doesn’t feel like the hiring cycle breaking the cycle of underrepresentation. We’re not off to a promising start when the same Texans who canned Culley look to sign journeyman quarterback Josh McCown.

McCown’s “coaching resume” involves being the quarterbacks coach for his son’s high school team in Charlotte, North Carolina. No black coach with such a flimsy coaching resume would pass even the receptionist, let alone be given serious consideration. McCown has been interviewed by Houston for the past two offseasons.

There’s a Hobson’s choice for black candidates for coaching: either take less desirable jobs in unstable organizations with questionable ownership, or walk through knowing there’s no guarantee they’ll ever get an opportunity. head coaching.

You don’t think Flores and Culley knew about the hornet’s nests they were walking through? They knew.

Mike Tomlin – who has never had a losing season – is the only black coach who has been able to keep his job in recent years.Ed Zurga/Associated Press

However, as a black candidate, when someone offers you an NFL head coaching job, you don’t have the luxury of turning up your nose and letting it pass because the situation isn’t ideal, said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

That was certainly the case for Culley, a 66-year-old career assistant. He was the scapegoat for a 4-13 purgatory season. Bill Belichick’s former assistant Nick Caserio has done nothing to resolve the Deshaun Watson imbroglio that hangs over the franchise like a tax lien. Houston has problems that couldn’t be solved in a single season by a genetically modified coaching staff of Belichick, Vince Lombardi and Don Shula.

Keep this in mind when trying to make the case for racial underrepresentation in coaches. Context matters. The perceived “failure” of black coaches becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in poorly run organizations.

Since Stephen Ross took primary control of the Dolphins in 2009, Miami has had zero playoff wins, one playoff berth and six head coaches. Maybe the coaches aren’t the problem.

Even when a coach begins to turn things around and turn the corner, he can fall victim to infighting and political interactions.

Flores, who led Miami to its first consecutive winning seasons in nearly 20 years (1997-2003), lost a power struggle with general manager Chris Grier for the ear of ownership. Grier, who is also black, is the son of former Patriots general manager Bobby Grier. The Dolphins expose all their dysfunctions and dirty laundry.

Hopefully one day we will get to a point where a power struggle between two black people is as common as it is between two white people. We’re not even close right now with the remaining 11 coaching and general manager vacancies.

“The fact that we are today with only one black head coach clearly shows that the current system does not provide a sustainable path for the growth of the number of minorities as head coaches,” the former manager said. General of Cardinals Rod Graves, Executive Director of Fritz. Pollard Alliance, which advocates for diversity in NFL hiring, in a statement.

“For many, the time for progress has come… The NFL has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to leadership diversity. We hope our increased involvement as partners of the NFL will have an immediate and long-term impact. on the Hiring and Leadership Performance Appraisal System.

Flores posted a three-season winning record against Belichick (4-2) and had three straight wins over him with Tua Tagovailoa at QB. Who else can say that? Certainly not career QB caddy McCown.

Jerod Mayo is one of many black coaches poised to seize an opportunity and just hoping for a fair jolt.Doug Murray/Associated Press

The best indicator of a coach’s success is the quality of the quarterback. Belichick owns exactly one playoff win without Tom Brady. Pete Carroll was a mediocre NFL coach with two winning records in six seasons at three organizations before Russell Wilson arrived in Seattle in 2012.

There is no shortage of qualified candidates for minority head coaches if teams wish to engage in more than bureaucratic vetting. Last year, the Buccaneers became the first Super Bowl winner to have three black coordinators. Two of them, Todd Bowles (defensive) and Byron Leftwich (offensive), are shooting interviews.

Pep Hamilton, Marcus Brady, Eric Bieniemy, Leslie Frazier, Raheem Morris, Jim Caldwell, Vance Joseph and Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo are intriguing candidates.

Morris is the canary in the Coaching Coal Mine. He was hired at Tampa Bay the same offseason that McDaniels was by Denver (2009). Neither man was ready for the role and both died.

McDaniels has enjoyed more interviews and job opportunities since then, accepting the job from Indianapolis before giving up.

Morris has experience on both sides of the ball, having worked as a wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator in Atlanta. He also has the most important attribute teams look for in a head coach – a connection to Rams prodigy Sean McVay. Morris took over as defensive coordinator for the Rams this season.

There is a disconnect between NFL ownership/upper management and the class of black coaches, scouts and front office personnel in identifying and promoting candidates. As one black candidate put it, “They don’t even know who works for them half the time. It’s crazy.”

It’s frustrating that the people owners rely on to provide advice — their brains — are often not personally or professionally familiar with black coach and GM candidates.

Owners remain comfortable hiring like-minded people, as they always have.


Christopher L. Gasper is a columnist for The Globe. He can be contacted at christopher.gasper@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.

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