Coaching is such an important aspect in any sport, but especially the NFL. Having a diverse set of coaches is important also. There aren’t many black coaches in a league where over 65% of their players are African Americans. That has been an issue in the league for years, but with no real solution to the problem. Bruce Arians seem to have found a solution.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one game away from achieving the NFL mountain top of Super Bowl champions. The players have executed the coaches’ gameplan, putting them in a position to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Bucs have reached the NFL’s biggest game with the league’s most diverse coaching staff.
The issue of diversity among NFL coaches
The lack of diversity among NFL coaches is a huge issue. Going into last season, there were only four minority head coaches. That means less than 15% of the head coaches are African American and predominantly African American league. It doesn’t make too much sense. There are Black head coaching candidates that have been overlooked, with teams giving head coaching jobs to people with fewer qualifications.
The NFL does have the Rooney Rule and offers compensatory draft picks for minority hires, but that hasn’t incited change. The truth is that the caucasian owners of the league will always look for someone who resembles them first. That’s been more evident each time a qualified black coach isn’t hired for someone who is less qualified but has an appearance to the owner’s liking.
At this point in the NFL offseason, the league lost another minority head coach. Anthony Lynn was fired as the Chargers head coach. Luckily, Robert Salah was brought in as the Jets head coach, who is of Muslim descent. Nevertheless, the minuscule number of minority head coaches in the league is an awful realization. Until white owners in the NFL get rid of their unconscious (or conscious) bias in the hiring process, there won’t be much change in the future.
If the NFL needs a lesson on diversity and inclusion in the coaching ranks, look at Bruce Arian and his staff. They are the most diverse coaching staff in the league, which is a testament to Arian’s commitment to this initiative. Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL to have this unique distinction.
Bruce Arians coaching staff preaches diversity and inclusion
When it comes to coaches, Bruce Arians is as real as it gets. He speaks what is on his mind and doesn’t play favorites with any of his players. Arians is also active in social justice, making sure he participates in promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion. His coaching staff speaks volumes of his efforts.
The Buccaneers are the only team in the NFL to Black coaches in all four coordinator positions. Byron Leftwich is the team’s offensive coordinator, helping the Bucs have a top-five offense in the NFL. Todd Bowles is the defensive coordinator and has played a huge role in having Tampa as one of the best defenses in the league. Their special teams coordinator is Keith Armstrong, and the run game coordinator is Harold Goodwin. Arians and his four Black coordinators have been essential in getting the Bucs to the Super Bowl.
The diversity doesn’t stop there for Tampa Bay. They have two women on the staff as full-time coaches. Lori Locust helps the defensive line as the assistant D-line coach, and Maral Javadifar is the strength and conditioning coach. They were the only NFL team to have women as full-time coaches until Washington hired Jennifer King as their assistant running backs coach.
Actions speak louder than words, and Bruce Arians is letting his actions do the talking. The diversity on his staff is what the NFL should use as an example for the other 31 teams. Arians is proving that yes, minorities can become coordinators and coaches too. They just need the opportunity.
Bruce Arians is looking to make the next generation of coaches
Having the most diverse coaching staff in the NFL is nothing to scoff at. The league has failed to promote inclusion, diversity, and equality in a meaningful way for years. However, Arians isn’t complacent on just having a diverse staff. He wants these minority coaches and coordinators to lead their own teams one day.
“My philosophy, my job is to create head coaches and push them. Push them out…So you identify them, kind of raise them, and give them them the opportunities,” Arians said, per Sports Illustrated.
Arians’ forward-thinking when it comes to his coaching staff is impressive. When many coaches try to retain their coordinators, he is trying to find them opportunities to grow and start their head coaching journies. He is doing his part, and now it is on these NFL owners and GMs to begin realizing the coaching pool is deeper than their white counterparts. Many of Arians’ coordinators have proven they are ready for a head coaching spot based on this season alone.
Diversity and inclusion in coaching is a big problem for the NFL, but not the Buccaneers. Bruce Arians’ diligence and prioritization of giving minorities opportunities on his coaching staff are commendable. He is one of the few coaches being about it and not just talking about it. He and his coaching staff’s diversity and excellence have them one win away from being Super Bowl champions.