The National Football League’s season has come to a close and with it begins the long offseason before football starts back up again in September.
The offseason is a time for NFL teams to regroup and either make amends from their previous season or fight to keep their squad together. An NFL team, however, is much more than just its players.
Each team has hundreds of personnel working to bring success to their organization, and it all begins with an owner and a head football coach.
These two positions spark conversations of diversity during every NFL offseason and demonstrate that the NFL is facing an uphill battle when it comes to diversifying its league at the most powerful positions.
Nearly 60% of NFL players are Black, but somehow in the NFL’s 103-year history we have only seen 27 Black head coaches out of 191 total head coaches and an eye-opening zero Black majority owners.
In 2018 the league saw seven Black head coaches, which is a lot compared to today’s three. But after the 2018 season, five of the seven Black head coaches were fired and all but one of their replacements were white.
With two Super Bowls and a consistently top offense, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy is one of the most explicit examples of Black coaches not being given equal opportunity. Bienemy is interviewed year in and year out for head coaching positions but has always been beaten out by a white counterpart. In some cases, Bienemy has lost head coaching jobs to other offensive coordinators who have seen substantially fewer successes than him.
Why is it that owners are so scared to hire minority candidates to coach their team to victory every Sunday? No matter the reason, there have been plenty of deserving Black candidates for coaching positions in the NFL and somehow they continue to lose them to white opponents.
In 2003, the NFL tried taking a step forward with diversifying its coaching by implementing the Rooney Rule, which states that every team is required to interview one minority candidate for its head coaching and executive openings.
This rule has obviously done little as 82% of the hires since 2012 have been white. Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores claimed that the implementation of the Rooney Rule was “more of a PR play than a real commitment to change.”
Flores has been at the forefront of the fight for diversity since the 2019 season when he was fired from the Dolphins. He then turned around and sued the organization for racist practices and for not giving Black candidates a fair chance.
Saying “the NFL does this" and “the NFL does that" is very broad, so let's narrow it down a little. The owners of NFL teams are the root of this problem, and they are the ones who need to be looked at to truly enact the change.
Of 32 teams in the NFL, 30 owners are white males. The only two minority owners are Shaad Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills.
The owners are the ones who run all the business for the team and can decide who coaches and who doesn’t.
A Black person has never been given an opportunity to be an NFL owner, not because of skillset or lack of money, but because the new owner must be chosen by owners across the NFL, who have historically never been Black.
The NFL rulebook states that 24 of the 32 active NFL owners must all agree to the transaction of a new owner being brought into the league. This would make it pretty easy for all of the rich white owners to block the Black community from powerful positions, wouldn't it?
This is obviously a problem that spans much further than just the NFL. All across the country, the Black community is still facing discrimination and unfair opportunities compared to white people. This problem is simply highlighted by one of the most beloved pastimes of America: football.
Change is needed from the top of the NFL system. Whether it’s the implementation of stricter rules or just one owner stepping up and being a voice for diversity, something needs to be done to create a fair opportunity for everyone to see success in the league.
Robert is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Robert? Tweet him @robertkeegan_.