San Antonio.- None of the NFL new hires at the head coach position this season were African-American and sparked the debate of equality at the position in the league.
At the start the 2013 season there will be only three African-American head coaches; Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings). The number is down from five last season after Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears) and Romeo Crennel (Kansas City Chiefs) were fired.
It is interesting when you think about the fact that not one minority candidate was good enough to hire for one fourth of the head coaching jobs in the NFL. Eight spots were open and not one minority hired.
The trend is similar in NFL front offices. Five general manager positions have been filled, all by white men. The New York Jets' GM job, which still is open, is expected to go to John Idzik. It's unclear who will become the Cleveland Browns' next GM.
The topic of race, particularly African-American roles in the NFL, is one that sparks great debate (right up there with politics and religion).
In 1989 the first African-American head coach of the modern era, Art Shell, was hired by Raiders owner Al Davis. However, not many owners would follow suit and in 2003 the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule because there was no other option to get NFL ownership to interview minority candidates.
The problem could be that there are just not enough minorities in the pipeline. For the most part the head coach hired is one who has had great success on the college level or as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, defensive coaches in general are overlooked. Last year in college there were 15 African-American head coaches (there’s a total of 124 college head coaching jobs, so 15 isn’t exactly eye opening).
Furthermore, there are only two offensive coordinators in the NFL. Jim Caldwell of the Baltimore Ravens is one, and he only got the position after former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired after Week 13.
The other African-American offensive coordinator last season was the Buffalo Bill’s Curtis Modkins, who was also the running backs coach. He didn’t actually call the offensive plays though, and he was recently hired by the Detroit Lions to coach their running backs.
This is an issue without easy solutions, but it’s a topic not far from the minds of NFL players and coaches around the league. The Rooney Rule to its credit recognizes this but perhaps more needs to be done.
Dennis M. Ayotte, Jr. is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. He may be reached at email@example.com.