The NFL has received considerable criticism in recent years for the lack of Black head coaches. Of the seven hires this past cycle, only two — the Jets’ Robert Saleh, who is Lebanese-American, and Houston’s David Culley, who is Black — went to minorities.
During an interview that aired during Super Bowl 55, Biden questioned the NFL’s hiring practices and gave his own suggestions.
NFL teams haven’t hired many Black head coaches lately
Barring anything unexpected in the coming months, the 2021 NFL season will begin with only five non-white coaches.
Considering the league has 32 teams made up of mostly Black players, the lack of diversity remains a troubling issue for the NFL. Five of the seven teams with coaching vacancies this cycle hired white coaches.
The NFL now awards teams that lose a minority coach with third-round compensatory picks in the next two drafts. Baltimore, for example, gained third-round picks in the 2021 and 2022 NFL drafts when David Culley joined the Texans.
The NFL also still has the Rooney Rule, a policy requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operations positions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, both of whom are Black, also have seen their stock rise in recent months. Neither received a head coaching job this offseason, though.
Bowles interviewed with the Eagles and Falcons earlier this year. Although he had an interview planned with the Eagles, both sides agreed to cancel that session.
Joe Biden just threw a challenge flag at the NFL
U.S. President Joe Biden sees a problem when he glances at the NFL’s coaching ranks.
With an opportunity to speak out on the world’s biggest stage, Biden made his grievances clear. Westwood One aired an interview of Biden at halftime of Super Bowl 55 and he addressed the league’s lack of diversity.
CNN transcribed Biden’s comments, including how the NFL can learn from his administration.
“I don’t know how many, when I picked a Black woman [Kamala Harris] to be vice president, I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of little girls just said, ‘I can do that.’ … It matters, it matters. And I don’t understand why they cannot find, because they exist, so many African American coaches that are qualified, that should be in the pros in my view.”
Biden did not discuss the lack of Black head coaches during his televised pregame interview with CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell.
Who are some Black coaching candidates to watch next year?
It almost seems a given that the 32 NFL head coaches on the sidelines in Week 1 of the 2021 season will not be the same as the 32 in that same situation to start the 2022 campaign.
The aforementioned trio of Byron Leftwich, Eric Bieniemy, and Todd Bowles are early names to watch for next year’s coaching cycle. Bowles went 24-40 as the New York Jets’ head coach from 2015-18.
NFL teams would be wise to avoid confusing Bowles and Leftwich, unlike a reporter after Super Bowl 55.
Longtime NFL assistant coach Raheem Morris went 4-7 as the Falcons’ interim coach in 2020. Morris, who totaled a 17-31 record with the Buccaneers from 2009-11, interviewed with the Falcons and Lions this offseason.
Longtime Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the Minnesota Vikings’ ex-head coach, are also worth keeping an eye on. Frazier was a finalist for the Texans’ job that went to David Culley.