By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
The Indianapolis Colts and owner Jim Irsay just sidestepped the Rooney Rule again by hiring ESPN broadcaster and former Colts center Jeff Saturday. Saturday won his first game over the Las Vegas Raiders before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 17-16. Mr. Saturday has never coached a professional team in his life. Irsay and the Colts did not interview anybody for the job.
The Rooney Rule was Dead on Arrival in Indianapolis and everybody knew it. Even that National Sports Network gave Saturday a pat on the back and high fives for doing nothing. The broadcasters were tripping all over themselves after the Colts beat the Raiders.
The last four hiring cycles out of 36 vacancies only seven Blacks were employed as head coaches. There is something wrong with this picture. It is very interesting that everything that is right with the Rooney Rule will meet everything that is wrong with the Rooney Rule Monday Night as The Pittsburgh Steelers with head coach Mike Tomlin will play the Indianapolis Colts and interim head coach Jeff Saturday.
There are six Black assistant coaches that could have taken the job at Lucas Field but these six fine intelligent African Americans will have to wait in line-AGAIN. The Colts owner wanted the head coach to look like him (Irsay) and to be a former member of the Indianapolis Colts organization. It did not matter that Saturday lacked the qualifications. It did not matter that he last coached high school players some 30 years ago.
There are five Black General Managers an increase of two with Brad Holmes-Detroit Lions, Terry Fontenot-Atlanta Falcons, Martin Mayhew-Washington Football Club, joining newbies Andrew Berry Cleveland Browns, and Chris Grier Miami Dolphins this might help in the future but I doubt it with the events in Indianapolis.
MIKE TOMLIN-PITTSBURGH STEELERS
In 2022, there are five Black head coaches: Carolina’s Steve Wilks, Houston’s Lovie Smith, Tampa’s Todd Bowles, Miami’s Mike McDaniel, and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, the most recent in NFL history. Tomlin has yet to have a losing season. Tomlin was the first African American head coach hired under the Rooney Rule.
It would never have happened without it. Five Black Coaches in a 32-team league, five, when 70% of the players on the field are African Americans.
Wilks and McDaniel are the New Kids on the block while Smith and Bowles get their second chance at the apple. Tomlin is the elder statesmen with 14 years in the Steel City without a losing record. Even veteran head coach Bill Belichick can say that.
The problem, African American coaches must have a book full of coaching experience and have to know the game inside out. White coaches are not held to this standard, the current example in Indianapolis explains it all.
There are currently five Caucasian coaches that should not be given a clip board but because of their pedigree they are standing on the sidelines guiding their team to oblivion. The Detroit Lions continue to be repeat offenders.
Sean McVay (Rams), Nathaniel Hackett (Broncos), Matt Eberflus (Bears), Dan Campbell (Lions), Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals), and Josh McDaniels (Raiders) have underachieved with their teams. McVay got lucky with a bevel of stars who won the Super Bowl last year. This year, the Rams have crashed to earth and reality in the NFC West.
All of this came to a head in February 2022 when former head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins registered a lawsuit against the league and targeted three teams the New York Football Giants, The Denver Broncos, and the Miami Dolphins his former employer for alleged racism, violation of the federal employment law, and that Rooney Rule was a sham just to fulfill the League’s obligation to its minority members.
The League states that the Rooney Rule does not apply to interim head coaches nor does it apply to coaches hired in mid-season. This little legal loop hole is the way teams move around the Rooney Rule, the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins are the most recent teams. The Las Vegas Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, and San Francisco 49ers, have at one time circumvented the rule and hired the coaches they wanted.
The League tried to quell the storm of African American protest by installing ten Black quarterbacks on starting day in 2021 and 2022. By the end of the season half of these quarterbacks cannot be found on the field due to injuries. This year’s example would be, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Arizona with seven more weeks to go. Chicago’s quarterback Justin Fields might not finish the season with a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile qualified and over qualified Black assistant coaches get passed by again through this giant side door of the interim status.
Here are the Six Black assistant coaches that are ready to fill head coaching positions but will have to wait another year.
San Francisco’s defensive coordinator, Ryans is in his 6th season on the west coast. The Niners are the best defensive team against the run as they defeated the Arizona Cardinals Monday night in Mexico. His team finishes the season in the Super Bowl in 2020.
Still don’t understand why this man cannot find a job. The K.C. Chiefs have yet to miss the playoffs, winning the Super Bowl and returning a year later. All Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes helps but the offensive plays have to come from someplace. They traded their star wide out Tyreek Hill to Miami and still win.
Tampa Bay’s Offensive Coordinator, Leftwich moved from the Arizona Cardinals to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reuniting with Bruce Arians and won the Super Bowl in 2021.
Buffalo’s Defensive Coordinator and former head coach Frazier has the lowest scoring average in the NFL. The Bills held the Cleveland Browns to under 80 yards rushing in the 23-34 victory in Detroit due to weather conditions in Buffalo. In the second season in Minnesota he posted a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance, the biggest Viking turn around in history. He garnered fourth place in the Coach of the Year Award. Frazier was dumped by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 after a 5-10-1 season and major injuries. This year the Vikings finally have shown life after Frazier with a 8-2 record and 1st place in NFC North.
The Buffalo Bills are also in 1st place in the competitive AFC East with a 7-3 record.
Morris, L.A.’s Defensive Coordinator keeping teams under 100 yards rushing average. The Atlanta Falcons never gave Mr. Morris a chance following the firing of Dan Quinn with a 0-5 2020 start. Morris comes in and produced a 4-2 record in shorten season, not good enough.
In 2021 he moves on to the Los Angeles Rams as the D.C. and wins the Super Bowl
And the youngster with the Denver Broncos as the present Defensive Coordinator, Ejiro Evero. His defensive teams are holding teams to just under 300 total years per-game.
Evero helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl in 2021 as the secondary coach and passing game coordinator. He has been part of three conference championships and nine playoff games.
So, the question needs to be asked with the record of these Black assistant coaches why are they not head coaches in the National Football League?
These six gentlemen could step into any NFL head coaching position today and perform well if given the chance. The NFL must be better, maybe the Flores Law Suit might change the playing field only time will tell.
Jeff Saturday and the Indianapolis Colts set the clock back years with his inexperience.
Colin Kaepernick told Black America years ago that the NFL does not care or will not help the African American community. Words matter, and it might be time for African Americans to boycott the National Football League- AGAIN.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad News Network Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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