Editorial: NFL’s Lack of Coaching Diversity is a Problem


Photo courtesy of Michael Reaves.

The Viking Staff

Over 56 percent of the players in the National Football League are of African American descent. And yet, of the 30 total head coaches in the NFL, only three were Black, and six were minorities during the 2022 season.

This is a major problem that has only heightened in recent years, and the league needs to fix it. In 2003, the NFL saw the opportunity to implement the “Rooney Rule.” Named after then Pittsburgh Steelers owner (as well as chairman of the league’s diversity committee) Dan Rooney, the Rooney Rule was a policy that required each team with an open head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate, in an effort to diversify the head-coach- ing scene across the NFL. The year the rule was implemented there were three Black head coaches… the same exact number as in 2022. Current NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell knew he needed to find anoth- er solution. So, his answer was to modify the Rooney Rule on March 28, 2022 — requiring all NFL teams to employ either a female or ethnic minority coach on their staff.

The year the [Rooney] rule was implemented there were three Black head coaches… the same exact number as in 2022.

The rule also was put under the spot- light because just under two months prior, former African American Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores — who had just been fired by the team — filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, alleging racial discrimination in hiring processes across the league.

He did this because once he was fired, the New York Giants interviewed him for their head coaching vacancy. Flores called the interview a “sham,” and stated that he believes they only interviewed him to fulfill the Rooney Rule requirements, and did not take him seriously as a candidate in any way shape or form.

Flores also stated that he had similar experience in 2019 with the Denver Broncos, prior to the Dolphins hiring him. Flores was then hired as a defensive assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So after all of the controversy, and rule changing, what happened in the 2023 coaching cycle? Currently, there are exactly three Black head coaches in the NFL in 2023, contuining the flatline trend we’ve seen over the past twenty years. Talented potential candidates such as Chiefs assistant coach Eric Bienemy, Broncos assistant Ejiro Evero, and aforementioned Steelers assistant Brian Flores were all ignored.

Flores called the interview a “sham.”

The NFL has tried to implement changes to make head-coaching diversity look similar to their player diversity, but every strategy carried out has been a massive flop. Whether it’s reluctant owners, or a lack of opportunity for candidates, this is a long overdue issue that the NFL absolutely has to figure out.