Like every NFL off-season, there will be a revolving door of Head Coaches around the league. Franchises that have been floundering will be looking for the next great leader in their locker room.
And in what seems to be another annual tradition, the subject of minority hiring has come up once again. This has been a topic of debate for years. And the NFL never seems to know what side they are on or how they want to be perceived. Half the time, they are the grumpy, ‘old boys network.’ In the other half, they are preaching about bringing people together and singing Kumbaya.
It’s certainly been a subject that’s been broached several times over the years on Undisputed, the sports talk show hosted by Skip Bayless and NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. The show has never veered away from controversial topics, and recent events threw some fuel on their fire.
With the Chiefs’ season concluding with their second title in four years, Kansas City Offensive Coordinator Eric Bienemy has been mentioned as a potential Head Coach. However, he has been in this same situation for the past two years, and he hasn’t taken the next step forward yet. This has occurred despite the fact that he looks like the most qualified candidate on the market — white or black.
Skip Bayless says it’s because white NFL owners are uncomfortable with the idea of hiring a black Head Coach. “I have been dumbfounded by it,” Bayless said this week. “It has been inexplicable to me, but then in the end, it’s really pretty explicable.”
“These older white owners just aren’t that comfortable with a black head coach because they need to interact, they need to go to dinner with the wives or the significants, or whatever. “And they’re just not that comfortable. When they do have an interview, it’s gonna be a quicker click with a young white hot candidate.”
“It’s just culture, it’s just the way life is,” Bayless concluded. “And I don’t know how to defeat it, because each of these guys is an independent owner in the umbrella of the NFL.”
The NFL has made it a practice to focus on minority hiring in coaching and management. Before Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his ‘State of The League’ address to the media. He touched on the subject of minority hires, particularly in the area of coaching. There has also been a concerted effort in place for years to try and turn the tide of employment practices in professional football.
“I think there’s progress, and we’re pleased to see progress. But it’s never enough,” Goodell said. “We always look to sort of say, ‘How can we do better?’ A number of the things we implemented last year have proven to be direct beneficiaries of some of the changes that occurred.”
During the latest round of hiring, five NFL head coaches received jobs. Only one of them was African-American. The league’s rosters are made up of about 60% black players, and there are just three black head coaches.
It’s a dilemma for Goodell, and it likely will plague him for years to come. Any solution he offers seems to anger one side or the other. In addition, it remains a popular topic with sports shock jocks just like Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe.