In her latest column for The Atlantic, Jemele Hill laments the NFL’s poor track record in hiring head coaches of color.
There are only three Black head coaches in a league with 32 teams. In the recent round of hirings, there were five available head coaching jobs. None were filled by Black candidates.
In a league where more than half the players are Black and coaches have all played the game at some level, this should be a field ripe with opportunities for Black men. But it isn’t.
Hill says the Rooney Rule, while well intentioned, cannot solve ignorance.
The same stigmas that have plagued Black players from being quarterbacks are the same stigmas preventing white owners from hiring Black head coaches. Questions of intelligence and the ability to “lead men” are the excuses.
“More than half the players in the NFL are black, and most coaches have played the game at some level. That would seem to be the perfect recipe for black coaches to find success. But most NFL owners have been white men, and they have seldom been willing to let African Americans or Latinos call plays—either on the field or from the sidelines,” writes Hill. “This is no different from when franchises presumed that black players weren’t smart enough to play quarterback and lacked leadership skills to command men. The league’s paltry record of hiring minority head coaches comes from the same mind-set. And its primary effort to address the problem has been a failure, because a policy can’t compensate for ignorance.”
Hill also talks about the trend of hiring offensive coordinators and quarterback gurus to be head coaches. Positions often limited to Black men.
There are only two Black offensive coordinators in the NFL.