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Mike Preston: With so many openings in the NFL, it’s high time to hire more black coaches

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Mike Preston: With so many openings in the NFL, it’s high time to hire more black coaches

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Black coaches are good enough to be coordinators in the NFL, but not head coaches. That’s the message the league has been sending, with hopes that will change this year.

There were eight openings shortly after the regular season ended Jan. 9, leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as the only black head coach among the league’s 32 teams. Since then there has been speculation about who will be hired and who has been interviewed, but it’s business as usual at this time of year.

And then no black coach is hired.

Almost as tiring is the repeated phrase about “why do teams have to hire black coaches?” Why don’t they just hire the best candidate for the job? »

Sounds good in theory, but maybe this question should be asked of the owners. Did former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer and current Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule have more professional experience than defensive coordinators Todd Bowles of Tampa Bay and Leslie Frazier of Buffalo?

Oh good?

Last we checked, the Bills had the NFL’s No. 1 defense, closely followed by the Buccaneers, who set up the pattern everyone copied after Tampa Bay beat the Kansas Chiefs. City, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV almost a year ago. Coincidentally, the Chiefs’ high-level offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, is black. Other black candidates include Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores and former NFL coaches Jim Caldwell and Marvin Lewis.

If the Dallas Cowboys fire coach Mike McCarthy and the Arizona Cardinals get rid of Kliff Kingsbury, there could be as many as 10 league openings. It would be embarrassing if there weren’t several new black coaches, but league owners don’t care. They circumvented the “Rooney rule”, which requires a team to interview at least two external minority candidates for a head coaching position and one for a coordinator position. They have no interest in giving an opposing team another draft pick for hiring a minority candidate from a rival organization. Very rarely have teams hired a black coach for a second stint (see Art Shell, Marvin Lewis).

According to the Associated Press, since the establishment of the “Rooney Rule” in 2003, only 27 of the 127 head coaching vacancies (21%) have been filled by minorities.

NFL owners are still a thriving network of “good old boys.” Most of them have only one concern, and that is money. Go around the league. It’s usually the same five or six teams that consistently win because they care about winning as much as making a profit. A lot of owners want the CEO type, which is why NFL coaches seem to be getting younger. They believe in analytics and are more concerned with what’s on social media than what’s in the playbook.

It turns out that most of them are also white.

That’s not to say that some black coaches don’t fit the same descriptions; they just happen to be a different color. The mainstream media also play their part, often promoting assistants for head coaching positions because they have the same agent. Few coordinators have gotten more publicity recently than Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

NFL players talk about the hiring gap all the time because 70% of the league is black. According to recently released statistics, 3,798 of the league’s 5,177 coaches and staff are minorities.

Yet right now there is only one black head coach.

There were three until the Miami Dolphins fired Brian Flores after a second straight winning season and the Houston Texans let go of David Culley after just one year despite the former Ravens assistant’s return to respectability at a franchise in turmoil.

Both of those coaches are expected to be candidates this year, along with Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, Cowboys defensive line coach Aden Durde and Buccaneers linebacker coach Larry Foote. Bieniemy led one of the NFL’s best offenses for four seasons, but teams still refuse to hire him. Leftwich didn’t become a hot prospect until quarterback Tom Brady arrived in Tampa Bay. So was it more Brady or more Leftwich?

Either way, there are more than enough black candidates to fill all of those open head coaching positions.

But again, it’s the NFL. Every Sunday, anything can happen. Except for having a black coach on the sidelines.

Mike Preston: With so many openings in the NFL, it’s high time to hire more black coaches

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