The Lack of Diversity in NFL Coaches

Kevin McCarthy, Staff Writer

Currently, in the NFL, almost 70% of players are African American while only about 30% are white. However, there are only 2 black head coaches, 2 black general managers, and 2 non-white owners. This problem needs to be fixed or the league might fall apart from within. 

A long time ago, the NFL had 0 minority head coaches. At that time, people didn’t believe that lack of diversity was a problem but one successful NFL head coach, Bill Walsh, recognized the problem and in 1987, he strived to change the narrative around minority coaches. He invited aspiring minority coaches to his teams’ training camps. His idea was very successful; The NFL started the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship which made all NFL teams bring in aspiring minority coaches. This program has been very successful and led to the hiring of Mike Tomlin, a super bowl winning black coach. And in 2017, the NFL had 7 minority head coaches. 

As our country is becoming more and more cognizant of race issues, the NFL is heading in the opposite direction and has fewer minority coaches today than 4 years ago. At the beginning of this NFL season, there were 4 minority head coaches. 2 of them were recently fired. Both firings were highly questionable. 

David Culley, the former coach of the Houston Texans, was hired to a team whose QB refused to play and whose talent is the worst in the whole league. His job was almost impossible but the organization that hired him then fired him after only 1 year. Bill Belichick wouldn’t have been able to win many games with the Houston Texans. There was nothing more that Culley could have done. 

Brian Flores, the former coach of the Dolphins, led his team to an 8 game winning streak at the end of the season and nearly made the playoffs. However, he was still fired. That firing makes zero sense. Flores recently sued 3 NFL teams for alleged racial discrimination. In the suit, Flores alleges that the NFL is racially segregated and “managed like a plantation.” Flores says that the NFL “lives in the past” and “remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators, and General Managers.” In the suit, he discusses illegal practices by the Dolphins like when they allegedly offered him $100,000 a game to lose. He also claims that the Giants and Broncos only gave him a coaching interview because of the Rooney Rule which mandates NFL teams interview minority coaches for head coach and coordinator positions. Another big part of the lawsuit is screenshots of texts between Brian Flores and Bill Belichick in which Belichick congratulated who he thought was Brian Daboll on being named the new Giants head coach. He apologized for sending this text to Flores, but the fact that Belichick heard the news before Flores proves that Flores was never a serious candidate. 

A big test for the NFL will be how many black head coaches get hired to the league’s 7 head coaching vacancies. In my opinion, the best coach available regardless of race is Eric Bieniemy. He is the current offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs and has led the Chiefs to the league’s best offense for the last couple of years. During the last 3 years, Bieniemy has been a candidate for many head coaching vacancies but inexcusably hasn’t been hired. Instead, coaches like Joe Judge, Matt Rhule, Urban Meyer, Adam Gase, and Freddie Kitchens have been hired. Out of all of these coaches, 4 have already been fired and the one other will most likely be fired after next season. All while Bieniemy has won a super bowl and has been to 3 straight AFC championships. It is insane that he hasn’t been hired yet. 


Other minority coaches that deserve a head coaching job include Todd Bowles, Brian Flores, Byron Leftwich, and Leslie Frazier. Bowles is the current Defensive Coordinator of the Buccaneers and held Patrick Mahomes to only 9 points in last year’s super bowl. He was the former head coach of the Jets and compared to recent Jets coaches, he did a fairly good job. Flores, as I talked about earlier, almost led the Dolphins to a playoff berth after a 1-7 record to start the season. Leftwich is the current OC for the Buccaneers and has led them to the league’s  #1 offense this season. Finally, Frazier is the current DC for the Bills and has led them to the NFL’s best defense this season. All 4 of these guys deserve a chance to be a head coach next season.