Earlier this year, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL and various teams over discriminatory practices reigniting a conversation about the proportionally small number of Black head coaches in the NFL.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post kicked off an editorial series detailing the struggles of Black coaches in the NFL, and Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who is now a special assistant to ownership for the Los Angeles Chargers, has an interesting theory as to why Black coaches are not hired.
“I really think there’s a disconnect [between] the owners and the kind of culture that is Black folks — not understanding the way Black folks communicate, the mannerisms, the expressions,” Tomlinson told The Post. “It’s different than someone who looks like them. We hear owners say all the time, ‘Oh, I connected with this [White] candidate because they reminded me of myself.’ If we can’t get past that [mind-set with] coaches who don’t look like you or talk like you or come from the same background, they’ll never get a chance.”
Former NFL head coach Bill Parcells offered an opinion that echoed Tomlinson’s, explaining that the NFL owners and Black coaching candidates grew up in different environments and that owners don’t connect with them naturally.
“The owners of these teams predominantly grew up in different environments,” Parcells said. “I don’t want to say their exposure isn’t too good, but really that’s probably the truth.”
Tomlinson is not the only one to speak candidly about the NFL’s discrimination problem. Longtime NFL and current Jackson State assistant coach Dennis Thurman explained a key problem with the league’s messaging and legendary former head coach Tony Dungy gave his own reasons for the lack of Black head coaches.