Two years ago, I wrote a story about how the NFL has a diversity problem, and boy, did that. At one point after the 2021 regular season, the firing of David Culley and Brian Flores as head coaches left Mike Tomlin, the longtime stalwart, as the only Black head coach in the NFL for a very brief while. Counting Ron Rivera and Robert Saleh, that totaled three coaches of color out of 32. Not even one-eighth of the league at that time.
So yeah, there was a problem, and it had long existed before that season. The NFL gave us the Rooney Rule, but it hasn't really helped. After all, the rule only states that minority candidates be interviewed, not hired. The hard part is that certain morons make it harder for important issues like diversity to be discussed, because those same clowns, whose amount of brain cells matches the amount of wins for the 2023 Carolina Panthers, believe that "diversity" means "phasing out White people." Good grief, the stupidity of that mindset.
This is about opportunities. This is about chances. This is about people getting a chance that they worked hard to get and earn. Entering this current season, the number of minority coaches did increase, and now, it's gone up even more. With the news out that Dan Quinn is set to become the new head coach of the Washington Commanders (a bit surprised that Seattle didn't bring him back, but I'm glad he has a HC job somewhere), that means all 32 teams have their head coaches set for the next season, the 2024 season. Out of the 32 coaches, seven are Black, with three of them officially hired after the regular season's end. Counting Robert Saleh and the Carolina Panthers' recent hire, that's nine coaches of color, one over the 25% mark. This is absolutely epic!
So let's take a look at the nine current minority coaches in the NFL:
This man needs no introduction. Mike Tomlin's been through it all. Seventeen seasons as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, two Super Bowl appearnances, one championship, and no losing seasons. Seventeen straight winning seasons. 173 total wins, which is an average of just over 10 wins per year. Tomlin is the best current coach in the NFL; he's the only one I'd list ahead of Andy Reid. And he's not done, as he'll be back for #18 in 2024. Tomlin's the longest tenured current head coach in the league, and he's earned very bit of that tenure, that's a fact.
A thought I had a few months ago: "Wouldn't it be something if the Patriots hired a Black coach?" The reason for this is simple. Boston (I know the Patriots play in Foxboro, but bear with me) has an ugly history when it comes to race in sports. Remember Washington's former team name? It was received when the team was in Boston. Plus, the Boston Red Sox were literally the last team to integrate, and their fans have been known to display racism towards players of color. So lo and behold, with Bill Belichick set to call it a career, who is getting the nod to fill those shoes? The team's linebackers coach, Jerod Mayo.
This is monumental. One thing I've enjoyed is seeing the most historic of minority moments in sports in recent history. Notre Dame finally has a Black coach. The Green Bay Packers finally have a starting Black QB. And now, the New England Patriots have a Black head coach for the first time in their franchise history, which dates back to 1960; they were one of the original founding teams in the American Football League. Time will tell how the Patriots will fare under Mayo, but this season shows that they have nowhere else to go but up.
Robert Saleh's NFL tenure actually dates back almost two decades. Coaching jobs in Houston, Seattle, Jacksonville, and San Francisco, but not at the head coaching level...until the New York Jets came calling. At the time, Saleh had been the 49ers' defensive coordinator for four seasons, which included the team's appearance in Super Bowl LIV (2019). but after the 2020 season, the Jets decided to hire Saleh as their head coach after Adam Gase fucked that team up beyond recognition.
This was a historic hire, as Saleh became the fourth head coach of Middle Eastern descent, and the he also became the first-ever Muslim head coach in NFL history. Now, the Jets are still looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since almost reaching the Super Bowl in 2010, and while 2021 was still more of the same, 2022 showed some promise with a 7-10 season. The promise increased when Aaron Rodgers joined the team, but he only lasted four plays before being out for the season. Despite this, the Jets made it to another 7-10 season, which tells me that Rodgers would have definitely righted the ship and put this team in the playoffs.
Saleh, who turned 45 on January 31, will be back for Year Four. Honestly, I was so afraid that he wouldn't be. After all, the team is owned by a staunch racist. Woody Johnson was once quoted as saying that he would rather have his Jets go winless than hope that Barack Obama would be in the White House. So yeah, there's that.
So it is possible for teams to learn from their mistakes. When the Las Vegas Raiders fired Jon Gruden as their head coach, they had Rich Bisaccia as their interim HC for the rest of the season. That team ended up reaching the playoffs despite even more drama hitting them during the season, and it was believed that Bisaccia would remain as the head coach. Not only did they not keep Bisaccia, they hired Josh McDaniels as their new HC. Oh boy. It took a season and a half for the Raiders to realize what a peabrain McDaniels was, so they finally fired him halfway during this season and decided to make Antonio Pierce (the linebacker from that Giants SB42 run) as their interim HC.
I was really pulling for Pierce to have a good run, but as for playoffs, well, they had no chance--the damage was done. The Raiders ended up going 5-4 under Pierce, with the centerpiece being their big Christmas Day win at Arrowhead over the Chiefs. After a long wait, the Raiders officially announced that they would remove the interim tag and make Pierce their official head coach. This was the right move, especially since he had the support of two of their best players, Maxx Crosby and Davante Adams.
What a year for the Houston Texans! So last year was another disaster; they went 3-13-1, and that third win came on the final week of last season, which knocked the Texans out of the #1 pick chase. As it turned out, that win ended up being a blessing in disguise. Houston used the #2 pick to draft CJ Stroud, and boy he turn out to be a Godsend! Stroud ended up being quite the superstar, and under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans, the Texans went from losing out on the #1 pick on the final week last year, to clinching a playoff spot on the final week this year, which turned into a division title a day later.
Even sweeter is the fact that the Texans won a playoff game this year, so year, this was quite the dream season for Houston. They went from 3.5 wins last year to 10 and a division title this year. Ryans definitely has a good chance for the Coach of the Year Award this year; it's between him and Detroit's Dan Campbell.
Can we please put some respect in Todd Bowles' name? After all, Bowles has been the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons, and both years saw the Bucs win the NFC South. Don't give me that "He had Brady" nonsense. He had Brady in the first year only, and in that year, Brady was a withering husk who should have retired after the Rams whipped him. In Year Two, Bowles had Baker Mayfield and still won the division again.
And don't give me, "Well, the NFC South sucked." The Bucs made it farther than both of the NFC East's playoff teams this year, and almost made the NFC Championship. I swear, there would be no micromanaging of this if Bowles were White. It's always the coaches of color that receive caveats or asterisks.
Apparently, the Carolina Panthers thought the Bucs did a good job this season, because they decided to take their OC and make him their new head coach. Dave Canales served as the Buccaneers' offensive coordinator last year, and it was a few weeks prior that the Panthers decided to hire Canales as their head coach, following a disastrous 2-15 season. The only good thing about that horrible campaign is that Canales is pretty much guaranteed at least one or two more seasons. He has no pressure. All Canales has to do is basically improve the team by about four wins, and that'll give him another chance to hopefully make things even better for Carolina.
If there's one team who truly believes in diversity, it's the Panthers. Canales is the second Latinx head coach in the Panthers' near 30 year history, with Ron Rivera (who coached the Panthers to Super Bowl 50) as the first. They also gave Steve Wilks a chance that he should have had in Arizona.
The main story regarding the Atlanta Falcons was that they could end up actually having Bill Belichick as their next head coach after firing Arthur Smith, who lasted three years and went 7-10 in each of those three seasons. And I'll be honest, I did expect the Falcons to actually hire Belichick, because that would be quite interesting: the same coach who handed the Falcons the most embarrassing night in NFL history. However, the Falcons decided not to go with the famed hoodie, deciding to hire a familiar face in Raheem Morris.
This isn't Morris' first time as a head coach; he spent three seasons in Tampa Bay between 2009-2011, with 2010 being the closest he came to the playoffs--a 10-6 campaign that saw the Bucs eliminated via tiebreaker. Morris briefly served as the interim coach for the Falcons in 2020, after Dan Quinn was fired, and went 4-7 in the 11 games that year. After this, Morris went to the Rams and served as their defensive coordinator for three seasons, including the Rams' Super Bowl LVI championship in 2021.
Last, but not least, there's Mike McDaniel, who was hired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins following the surprise firing of Brian Flores. The coaching change came after a season where the Dolphins started 1-7 and ended up 9-8, so McDaniel basically got a team that was close to a resurgence. The Dolphins' first year under McDaniel saw the same record, but they did reach the postseason on the final week. This year, the Dolphins were on the verge of winning the AFC East, but lost the division crown on the final week. Neither season ended with a playoff win, and they are not the holders of the longest playoff victory drought in the NFL.
20-14 in two seasons is good, but unfortunately, no playoff wins as of yet. I think that will change. The Dolphins have the talent, and McDaniel is an excellent coach. We'll see how 2024 treats the Dolphins.
And that's the list. Nine minority coaches in the NFL. It's an amazing boom for the league, and it shows that progress is happening. I have to repeat this: diversity is all about opportunity and chances. What we are seeing is a long list of good coaches receiving a chance to show what they are made of.