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#pounditThursday, October 29, 2020

Reports: Black coaches frustrated with perceived ceiling in NFL

There were five NFL head coaching firings and vacancies this season, and four of those spots have now been filled. The Washington Redskins hired Ron Rivera; the Dallas Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy; and on Tuesday, the Giants hired Joe Judge while the Carolina Panthers hired Matt Rhule. Of the four, only Rivera is a minority, while none of the coaches are black.

The hires of Rivera and McCarthy are mostly indisputable; both have winning records, a resume of success, and Super Bowl appearances. Rhule is young and has shown himself adept at rebuilding college programs as a head coach.

The hiring of Judge may have been especially frustrating for black NFL assistant coaches to see.

Judge, 38, does not have any previous head coaching experience at any level, and he has never been an offensive or defensive coordinator. Seeing Judge get hired and Rhule fill another vacancy led to sentiments of frustration among black NFL coaches, according to several reporters.

Multiple reporters passed along messages of frustration they received from black coaches, who reportedly feel like there is a ceiling for them in the NFL.

A coaching agent even told Robert Klemko he could see black assistant coaches going to the college ranks because of the perceived ceiling they feel in the NFL.

Mike Tomlin, who has been with Pittsburgh since 2007; Anthony Lynn, who has been the Chargers’ coach the past three seasons; and Brian Flores, who just completed his first season with the Dolphins, are the only black head coaches currently in the NFL.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has interviewed for jobs, but some may feel like that was to satisfy the Rooney Rule. Given the success of past Andy Reid offensive coordinators as head coaches (Doug Pederson, Matt Nagy), Bieniemy would have seemingly been in line for a promotion. Peter King believes Rhule being able to start the job earlier than Bieniemy, whose Chiefs could go deep in the playoffs, was a big advantage.

Marvin Lewis and Jim Caldwell have had success as NFL head coaches, and Lewis got a look from Dallas, also to possibly satisfy the rule. Seeing teams interview black candidates but not hire them likely plays a part in the feeling of frustration.

The Cleveland Browns still have a hire to make and are interviewing numerous candidates, but at this point, you can understand why black assistants in the NFL would feel frustrated and like they aren’t receiving many high-level opportunities.

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