Colorless Coaching: A Lack of Diversity in NFL Coaching

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Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

In 2019, the most watched television event in the United States was Super Bowl LIII, with over 95 million people tuning in to the football championship. This is just one example of how football dominates American culture. Despite its success, unfortunately, the National Football League (NFL) has issues it refuses to address, including its shortage of minority coaches. 

The number of black players in the NFL is about seventy percent, according to an article featured in The Guardian titled “The NFL Is 70% Black, So Why Is Its TV Coverage So White?”. Teams decide what players to keep and cut by evaluating talent and potential, which is to the benefit of both the players and teams. People may not want to hear it, but the NFL is a business, and each business’ job is to make money. The players that create the most entertaining games for fans will stay on teams, as they generate revenue, while those who struggle to perform will not. In contrast, the same cannot be said for coaches. Currently, there are only three black coaches in the league, and this number does not seem to be growing substantially any time soon. Only one of the five head coaches signed this off-season is of color. Senior Brett Zornberg was surprised by these statistics: “I am in shock. I never knew the issue was this bad,” Zornberg explained. 

The problem has been somewhat addressed by the NFL through the implementation of the Rooney Rule,. This rule requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching vacancy, which was passed in 2003. Still, people are disappointed in how little has been done to rectify this situation. Senior Jordan Zornberg thinks there needs to be change: “There should be more coaching opportunities for diverse races of people. They should all be looked at with the same potential to be a good coach, without bias.”

Owners are now finally taking steps to make changes in order to create a coaching field with various types of representation. Steelers’ owner Art Rooney Jr., chairman of the NFL’s diversity workplace committee, recently put out a statement where he said, “…there’s really no excuse for not having a diverse pool of candidates in the hiring process really throughout [the NFL].”

It seems to be that the process of NFL coach hiring needs to be altered in some way. Just as players are selected based on their skill and talent, coaches should be as well. Junior Issac Roditi had his own take on the issue: “I think that black people need more opportunity, but the Rooney Rule should be removed.” People’s opinions on the matter may vary, but one thing seems to be certain: players and coaches are not judged the same way in the NFL, which is an issue that needs to be addressed by the upper management of the league.