With 4 Black Head Coaches Likely Losing Their Jobs, NFL Could Have a Problem on Its Hands

Black coaches
AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

The NFL could be on the brink of a battle with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a diversity group that advocates for minority candidates to get NFL head coaching opportunities.

On Monday, three black NFL coaches are expected to be fired – Steve Wilks (Arizona Cardinals), Todd Bowles (New York Jets) and Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos).

And on top that, another black coach, Hue Jackson, was fired by the Cleveland Browns earlier this season.

Entering the regular season, the NFL had eight minority head coaches. However, by Monday, it could be down to four. One of the eight minority coaches is Carolina’s Ron Rivera who is Puerto Rican, so the NFL could be down to just three black coaches, which might be deemed unacceptable by some since the league has 70 percent black players.

So a storm is brewing.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance is named for the pro football’s first black coach, who took over the Akron Pros in 1921. A graduate of Brown University, Pollard was considered one of the best running backs of his era.

The Pollard Foundation was instrumental in the NFL implementing “The Rooney Rule” in 2002. Which states that NFL teams must interview minority candidates for any head coaching opening.

According to the website of the Fritz Pollard Foundation their mission is:

“Encouraging adoption of rules and practices that encourage diversity on NFL teams; educating NFL team owners and managers regarding the availability of minority candidates for team staff positions; advocating the hiring and promotion of minority candidates in NFL team staff hierarchy through public education and communication with team and league ownership and management.”

In late November, the Pollard Alliance put out a list of 11 minority assistant coaches who they feel NFL teams should interview for head coaching spots:

Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Cowboys defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard, Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Raheem Morris, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and Jackson.

But what if none of these guys are hired? Then the NFL could have a major battle on their hands with the Pollard Alliance and some reporters, over their low number of black coaches in a league with a majority black players.

Stanford head coach David Shaw, who isn’t on this list, could emerge as a hot NFL head coaching candidate.

There are rumors the Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who is black, might step down after the season, so the number of black NFL coaches could decline even more. Though, there are rumors the Bengals might hire Jackson or Joseph.

But with the regular season about to end, and a number of coaches about to be fired, including three black individuals, the NFL’s lack of black head coaches looks to be a big story in the coming weeks and months.

Stay tuned.


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