The NFL’s statistics on Black head coaches is completely unacceptable.
Out of 32 teams in the league, there are only two Black head coaches – Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the recently hired Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans.
How is this possible in the year 2022? How much progress has really been made since the NFL was founded in 1920? Are we to believe that a league which consists of 70% Black players can’t find more people within this group who can ascend to the coaching ranks?
What about the number of Black offensive and defensive coordinators? We can also add the large number of Black coaches at the various colleges and universities across the country who have been ignored in the hiring process.
It’s clear that NFL teams are making a mockery of the Rooney rule. This is the requirement that NFL teams must interview at least two minority candidates whenever there is a coaching vacancy.
This sham was exposed in January when New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick sent a congratulatory text to whom he thought was Brian Daboll, who is white, for becoming the next head coach of the New York Giants. It turns out that Belichick accidentally texted ex-Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who is Black, and was waiting to be interviewed by the Giants.
Flores never had a chance for the job because it had already been given to Daboll. The Giants were simply “checking the boxes” to make sure they complied with the Rooney rule and never seriously considered Flores (nor any other Black coach) for their coaching vacancy.
How long has this racist shell game been going on in the NFL? If not for Belichick’s carelessness on who he was texting, we would not have found out that Flores “interview” was nothing more than a shameful deception designed to appear that they believe that a Black coach could lead their team.
We at the Leaders Network of Chicago support Flores in his class-action lawsuit against the NFL. We applaud his courage against a league that is unforgiving against Black people who are outspoken. Just ask Colin Kaepernick, who saw his NFL career end at age 28 when he became the first professional athlete to take a knee.
The Leaders Network of Chicago also joins Rev Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, Derrick Johnson of the NAACP and other national civil rights leaders in demanding that the laughable Rooney Rule be abolished.
We call upon Commissioner Roger Goodell to form a task force consisting of former NFL players, coaches, civil rights leaders and attorneys to address NFL’s diversity, equity and inclusion policies and initiatives.
“It’s vital that the NFL commissioner and owners see this moment in history as an opportunity to right a series of racial wrongs and begin to engage in a more meaningful and inclusive partnership, one which rises above the toxic discriminatory practices of white supremacy,” Rev. Ira Acree, co-chairman of the Leaders Network, said in a statement Sunday, hours before the Super Bowl.
The group’s leadership – Acree, David Cherry, Marshall Hatch Sr. and Cy Fields – will send a certified letter to the commissioner with their requests. A copy of the letter will also be delivered to Chicago Bears owner Virginia Halas McCaskey.