As African-American assistant coaches reportedly consider leaving the NFL for its lack of advancement opportunities, the spotlight has focused once again on the league’s lack of head-coaching diversity.
The criticism of the league’s lack of diversity among head coaches came into focus once again this offseason after the New York Giants hired Joe Judge over Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who has far more coaching experience and was clearly a more qualified candidate.
While much of the focus around the NFL’s issues has focused on the “Rooney Rule”, which requires a team to interview one minority candidate before hiring a head coach, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman highlighted what he views as an even greater problem.
As Sherman points out, an issue still exists where many NFL owners come from an older background and often hire coaches who look similar to them or grew up the same way.
The All-Pro cornerback also hits on the second chances many white head coaches receive. In contrast, minority head coaches are rarely given a second opportunity and, in some cases, their first opportunity to be a head coach.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase posted a 23-25 record in three seasons with the Miami Dolphins before being scooped up by the Jets right after Miami fired him. Meanwhile, Jim Schwartz is interviewing for the Cleveland Browns’ job despite a 29-51 record over five seasons with the Detroit Lions.
As these coaches are given second chances, the likes of Bieniemy and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh are unlikely even to get a shot as head coach.