David Curry was dysfunctional in the NFL team in the Houston Texans for less than a calendar year. Curry spent 43 years as a college and professional assistant, but his tenure as head coach ended in just 17 games.
With his firing, the NFL’s list of blackhead coaches now includes only one name.
Mike Tomlin’s work looks safe and saves the NFL from the embarrassment of having no black coach at all. Pittsburgh Steelers will not fire coaches. In addition, Tomlin won two-thirds of his game and had no losing season for 15 years.
He has also won the Super Bowl title if there is an owner who needs proof that a black coach can succeed at the highest level. You wouldn’t expect them to do so after all these years, but their employment patterns suggest that they aren’t.
One black head coach in a league dominated by black players. A black coach 33 years after Artshell broke the color barrier of modern head coaches with the Raiders.
The NFL wants more. Black players who dominate the league ranks also want more coaches similar to them.
But despite the new hiring rules and years of actual progress, it seems to be 1989 again.
No, no one can force a team owner to fill a vacant seat with a black coach. That wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be fair to other coaches trying to find a way to the top.
However, in leagues where 70% of players are black, somehow multiple black coaches are needed.
The NFL has admitted for years and introduced the Rooney Rule nearly 20 years ago, forcing the team to interview at least one black candidate for each coaching vacancy. The rules were expanded to two interviews in 2020, with draft topic tweaks and encouragement for teams to hire black coaches and executives from lower positions on other teams.
For a while it seemed to work. By 2017, eight minority coaches, seven of whom were black, were leading the team around the league.
But instead of expanding, that number has shrunk — and abruptly. Head coaches are hired to be fired in every league, so the fact that all but one is gone after just a few years is not terribly unusual.
But black coaches who fail the first opportunity say they can’t get the second and third chances like many white coaches in front of them.
Need more proof? None of the six black men who were head coaches in 2017 and were later dismissed have been hired for similar jobs. At the same time, flashy white retread hires like Jon Gruden and Urban Meyer were hired and then rudely kicked out of the league.
The truth is, hiring a coach has never been a scientific process. There are a lot of guesses and expectations every time we hire — and there is always the opposite for those who nod.
That was certainly the case in Houston, and it was that he was a lifelong assistant, not a true head coach, who knocked on Curry. However, he did not have a star quarterback Deshaun Watson throughout the season and was in charge of a team undergoing a major overhaul.
The Texans won only four games under Curry, but by Monday he was on the podium in Houston, answering questions about next year’s team. So his shooting three days later was even more confusing, and at the age of 66 he wouldn’t be a candidate for head coach again.
Of course, Houston can hire a black coach on his behalf. There are many qualified candidates for the league’s top assistant and coordinator jobs, so it’s not difficult to find at least two to interview to qualify for the Rooney Rule.
But look at the statistics, and it doesn’t look promising.
Between 2012 and 2021, there were 219 open coordinator positions (many head coaches employed) and 168 (76%) white candidates. At the same time, 51 (82%) of the 62 head coach openings hired white men.
It may be better, but it may not be. Almost all NFL owners are white and have been members of almost every good old boy network that has lived in the league since its existence.
Most of the time, they are rich in the business of making their own decisions and they tend to hire people like them. Whether Rooney Rule or not, they act in the best interests of their business and football team, thinking right or wrong.
With these decisions, we have arrived at our current location. One black coach from a league of 32 teams is spread across different countries.
The NFL obviously needs to be better. How is the problem?
And there was one: NFL Black Coach | Sports
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