After another coaching carousel with a number of head coaching vacancies, the number of Black and minority head coaches remains largely stagnant. Tony Dungy, the first Black head coach to win a Super Bowl, remains very disappointed with the state of things, not only with head coaches, but high-level assistants, front office executives, and other influential positions around the NFL.
The Houston Texans hired David Culley, the only new Black head coach in the league. New York Jets coach Robert Saleh is the first Muslim-American head coach in NFL history. Both are great news on this front, of course, but the overall levels for a league that is 70-percent Black at the player level remains very stagnant.
In an open letter addressed to the league’s owners, Dungy outlined numerous times in which the NFL has grown and improved by embracing diversity and opening up opportunities for underserved groups.
“The problem is we are not utilizing all of our resources because we aren’t truly embracing minority hiring in every aspect of our game,” Dungy writes, in the letter posted to NBC Sports. “Now I know there are many people who disagree with this statement. They would say, ‘Every owner is trying to win and therefore you will always hire the best people.’ But if you take a look at the hiring landscape of the last four years you will certainly come to the conclusion that is not true. And please understand this is not about one individual (Eric Bieniemy). It’s not about whether we have two Black general managers or four. It is about the mindset of finding quality leadership and utilizing ALL the talent available to the NFL. This is not a new problem and it’s one that you have fixed before. It has just taken a little work on your parts.”
In an open letter to NFL owners, @TonyDungy notes there are four Black coordinators in this weekend’s Super Bowl “questioning whether they will get an opportunity to be a head coach in the foreseeable future.”
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) February 4, 2021
Bieniemy is the person most commonly pointed to for those who raise this issue with the league. The offensive coordinator for one of the best offenses in NFL history over the last few years, including now back-to-back Super Bowl participants, has failed to land a job, while relative unknown white coaches like Brandon Staley and Nick Sirianni landed jobs this year.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who face Bieniemy and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl this weekend, have one of the most diverse staffs in the NFL. Bruce Arians’ four top assistants—offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (the former head coach of the Jets), and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong are all Black men. Arians has expressed his discontent with the fact that Leftwich didn’t even get an interview.
Tony Dungy cited numerous moments throughout NFL history where a push for diversity improved the league, including integration in the 1940s, the embrace of Black quarterbacks beginning with stars like Doug Williams, up through today’s standouts like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson. He also brought up lessons from his own coaching career.
You should know how much it hurt me in 1977 to graduate from college and not be given a chance to try to play QB in the NFL. It hurt in 1993 to have coordinated the number one defense in the NFL and not get an interview for one of the five head coaching openings that year. But I have to tell you it hurts even more to see African American coaches going through the same thing almost 30 years later. And it will hurt to see four African American coordinators in this Super Bowl who will be questioning whether they will actually get an opportunity to be a head coach in the foreseeable future. And this is hurting our league.
That’s why I’m writing this letter to you. Because ultimately you are the decision makers that determine the direction of the NFL. Are those decisions going to simply involve trying to win Super Bowls and be profitable, or will they be about making the NFL the best it can be? I’m suggesting, and history has shown, you don’t have to choose. I’m asking you to keep the legacy moving forward and make the NFL the best league we can be. And I’m believing that you’re going to do that. Please show me that my faith in you is justified.
The NFL has tried to find solutions, including amending the Rooney Rule, to very mixed response and meager results. As Tony Dungy says, we won’t see true improvement if it doesn’t come from the will of the owners themselves.
The post Tony Dungy Sends An Open Letter To NFL Owners About Hiring appeared first on The Spun.