A glance at each NFL team’s bench reveals that all of the league’s franchises rely heavily on black players. Things change when you look into the coaches, management, and staff of these same NFL teams. Once you get past the actual players, you’ll see that there is a surprising lack of diversity in pro football. Here’s what you need to know.
Who owns each of the 32 NFL teams?
It’s not uncommon for NFL players to refer to the NFL owners as members of a rich white boys club. They’re not wrong. At this point, there’s not a single NFL team that’s owned by a black.
Only two people of color own NFL teams. Kim Pegula, a woman of South Korean descent, co-owns the Buffalo Bills. The other NFL owner of color is Shahid Rafiq Khan, is a Pakistani-born American, who owns the Jaguars, details Forbes. Every other NFL owner is white.
Understanding the lack of diversity in sports team ownership
The lack of diversity doesn’t stop with the NFL. Of the three major sports leagues in the U.S., the NFL, NBA, and MLB, only one principal owner is black. That particular black owner is none other than sports legend, Michael Jordan who is the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
There are a few reasons more sports teams aren’t owned by black owners. Many people assume it has to do with the sheer amount of money needed to purchase a top-level sports team. Richard Roth, an attorney who specializes in sports attempted to sum up the issue to Money.com:
“Historically the wealth in this country belongs to white males. It’s the same reason most Fortune 500 companies, most law firms, etc. are owned by white males. I do believe you’ll see more [people of color] break that glass ceiling. It just takes a little longer because of the size of the money.”
While it is true that the number of whites in the upper one percent is significantly higher, there are black sports fans who have the means to purchase a sports team, if they can find one. There is already a limited number of teams in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
They don’t come up for sale very often. In most cases, the primary owner purchased the team more than twenty years ago and have no intention of selling the team any time soon. Many consider their professional football team their greatest asset.
NFL coaches and management indicate a startling lack of diversity
The lack of diversity isn’t restricted to the NFL owners. A glance at the sidelines shows a truly shocking lack of color amongst the coaching/management staff. This is true of every single NFL team.
Considering that there are 32 NFL teams, it’s a shock to realize that there are just three head coaches and two general managers who are black. Many feel that plenty of highly qualified black coaches and GM — many even played in the league — would do an excellent job in the NFL. But teams simply aren’t hiring them.
Jim Caldwell, who was a black NFL coach, finds the issue perplexing. He was baffled about why it took Eric Bieniemy, an offensive coordinator for Kansas City struggled to land a coaching job. Caldwell told TODAY:
“Some of it’s just mind-boggling. You look at guys who got opportunities when Eric did not. Those things make you scratch your head. What we have to understand is this, there are a lot of (Black) guys out there who can do the job. It’s not like we have to reinvent ourselves.”
The NFL organization knows it has a diversity problem. While no one seems to know how to correct that lack of diversity amongst the owners, the organization is taking steps to improve diversity among the coaches. The first step was creating the Rooney Rule in 2013.
This rule stated that whenever a team filled a coaching position, they had to interview at least one person of color for the position. The rule hasn’t done much to increase the number of non-white coaches the league hires. The league recently revisited the Rooney Rule, reports Diverse Education. They may look at ways to tweak the guideline to put more coaches of color on the NFL sidelines.