One of the most important points of discussion in the NFL today is the promotion of equality in its ranks, however, the diversity of the coaching staff continues to fall behind in the process. Although the players in the NFL are predominantly African-American, the lack of representation in coaching is completely disproportionate (only five coaches at the end of the 2017 NFL season were African-American).
When coaches get fired in the offseason, it is up to the owners and executives to determine who the next head coach will be. In 2003, the “Rooney Rule” was instituted which requires that all NFL teams with a coaching vacancy must interview at least one minority candidate. Recently, the Oakland Raiders were investigated by the NFL after the 2017 season due to the hiring of Jon Gruden. Owner Mark Davis admitted to the media that he had sought to hire Gruden for many years, and this raised questions on whether the Raiders had decided to bypass the rule. There may never be a way of knowing what goes on behind closed doors, but people are becoming more doubtful about whether the Rooney Rule is holding the owners and the hiring process accountable.
Of the 32 NFL owners, only one is a minority: of the seven coaching vacancies in the NFL, only one was filled by an African-American. There is an obvious systemic issue with the NFL’s hiring process, and if more hirings follow the path of the Oakland Raiders where the owner’s decision was mostly predetermined, minorities will fall out of coaching positions.
Minorities in the United States know that the struggle for equality can be a tough and uneasy path; however, it is a struggle that has been common for far too long, and should not be a conflict in professional sports. As football tries to promote equality within its staff, it is hard to ignore the racial division of ownership and its executives. Part of this problem can be attributed to inequality in earlier generations, but that does not mean that it should still be an issue today. Only last year, 25% of head coaches were minorities in the NFL, but only five had secure jobs at the end of the season. Until ownership in the NFL becomes more diverse and conscious of its inequalities, the trend of white dominance in coaching will continue to grow.
Stites, Adam. “What is the NFL’s Rooney Rule?” SBNation.com, SBNation.com, 6 Jan. 2018, www.sbnation.com/2018/1/6/16856550/rooney-rule-nfl-explained-how-it-works-coaches.
Smith, Posted by Michael David. “NFL will have at least eight minority head coaches in 2017.” ProFootballTalk, 14 Jan. 2017, profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/01/14/nfl-will-have-at-least-eight-minority-head-coaches-in-2017/.
Goodman, H. A. “Colin Kaepernick Should Be Praised, Not Condemned.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Oct. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/70-of-nfl-players-are-black-men-colin-kaepernick_us_57c7b12be4b07addc4114047.
Gutierrez, Paul. “John Wooten decries NFL’s ruling that Raiders honored Rooney Rule.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 19 Jan. 2018, www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/22154540/nfl-says-oakland-raiders-complied-rooney-rule-hiring-jon-gruden-head-coach.
MonaChalabi. “Three Leagues, 92 Teams And One Black Principal Owner.” FiveThirtyEight, FiveThirtyEight, 28 Apr. 2014, fivethirtyeight.com/features/diversity-in-the-nba-the-nfl-and-mlb/.