The Washington Post‘s blockbuster story, “How the NFL Blocks Black Coaches,” rocked the NFL world Wednesday, detailing factors behind the dearth of Black head coaches in the league.
Insane Stat: Nearly 60 percent of the players in the NFL are Black. But just nine percent of the head coaches are.
A must-read Washington Post deep dive investigation into racism in the NFL's coaching ranks. https://t.co/g9mfMWEu21
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) September 21, 2022
One of the most successful Black coaches of all time, Tony Dungy, gave the Post an interesting analogy. The Hall of Fame coach says the league views Black coaches the way it once viewed Black quarterbacks: they don’t fit the preconceived system.
“A lot of the Black quarterbacks [of earlier eras], their skill set was outside the box of what the NFL did,” Dungy said. “They just needed people to think a little bit differently. And that’s what it took for the quarterbacks. Now all of a sudden … we’ve got this young group of quarterbacks that is [setting] the league on fire.”
“And I think the same thing is true with coaching. We’ve got some coaches who have that same brilliance [but aren’t] getting an opportunity. We think we’re hiring the best. We think that we aren’t missing anything, but we are.”
Dungy posted a 139-69 mark in 13 seasons as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts. He led the Colts to a win in Super Bowl in the 2006 season. Dungy was one of seven Black head coaches that year.
Now there are only three Black head coaches: Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Todd Bowles with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans.
“Minority coaches are frustrated today, maybe moreso than any time I’ve ever seen,” Dungy told the Post. “We’re switching jobs a lot, half the [coaches in the] league turn over every three years. It doesn’t seem to matter what criteria we’re looking at, it just hasn’t been reflected in the hiring process.”
“That’s the disappointing thing I think to so many coaches right now. What is the process … am I going to get the opportunity?”
During his tenure in the league, Dungy helped mentor a number of Black coaches who went on to head-coaching jobs. He says the current situation isn’t that there is a lack of qualified Black coaching candidates. It’s simply that NFL owners are not willing to give them a chance.
‘I get frustrated when I hear about the ‘pipeline,’” Dungy said. “‘We’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that to get more people in the pipeline.’ The pipeline is full of people. We’ve just got to get ownership to notice and to see some of these guys and get that to become the trend.”