NFL.com reporter Jim Trotter penned a column earlier this week, lamenting the low number of minority coaches in the NFL.
“Miami’s Brian Flores was the only person of color to fill one of the eight vacancies this offseason, just as Steve Wilks in Arizona was the only minority to step into one of seven openings last offseason,” Trotter wrote.
Wilks, who is black, was fired following a 3-13 season in 2018, and was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury, who is white. The fact that Wilks was fired after just one season, and replaced by Kingsbury, who had a 35-40 record as the Texas Tech coach, irked some in the minority coaching community, according to the article.
Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy thinks one of the problems is many NFL owners, the majority who made their fortunes outside of football, aren’t adept at interviewing coaching candidates.
“The biggest problem is, people making decisions, many times, don’t know what they’re looking for or how to find it,” Dungy told Trotter. “Then it becomes a matter of, ‘If I go with what’s popular, or what everybody else says is good, at least I’ll feel good about it and people won’t be able to second-guess me.’ Then it becomes easy to stay with what’s trendy, because there are enough good, trendy candidates that you’ll never run out. But that doesn’t always allow you to find the diamonds in the rough. My suggestion would be to have all these owners take a class in how to hire people.”
An anonymous NFL GM also blamed the lack of football acumen of many owners.
“They can hire the right business people for their company, because that’s what they do for a living, and they have a very good idea of what’s necessary to be successful,” the general manager told Trotter. “But how much do they actually know about the football world? Do they know what it’s like to go scout on the road? Do they see these guys in meetings every day? Do they know what a coach does every day? They have a global understanding, but they’re not educated enough on the ways of the NFL. Most of these owners are fans, so them hiring a head coach is like me going to Google and trying to hire a chief engineer for a new search engine. How the hell am I qualified to do that?”
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton feels the NFL took a “step backward” the last two hiring cycles.
“We don’t have to see the numbers to know we took a step backward in the last hiring cycle — and that has nothing to do with anyone who was hired,” Payton said. “It’s just the fact that, man, look at the pictures.”
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver coach Darryl Drake believes that if people don’t “speak out” nothing will change.
“If we don’t speak out, then we’re running down that same railroad track, and that track is rusty,” Drake told Trotter. “There are so many qualified minority coaches, which is why the reaction among them is not good. A lot of guys felt slighted in this last hiring cycle; a lot of guys do not know which road to take to get their names in a position to where they can have those opportunities; a lot of guys felt like certain individuals that should have had opportunities to get a job did not get a job.”
The NFL currently has four minority coaches – Flores, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Carolina’s Ron Rivera and Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers.