By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
Everybody was giving each other the high fives and back-slapping each other with two African American quarterbacks in the Super Bowl but there is an elephant in the room tearing up all the furniture. The Washington Football Club and the Kansas City Chiefs made it very clear… We don’t want smart African American head coaches that win games.
Thus, Eric Bieniemy is this year’s example: shunted laterally from offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs to offensive coordinator of the Washington Football Club, but bypassed for a head coaching position. He went from one of the best offensive teams to one of the worst, and without a good quarterback.
Once again Black coaches are told to take this BAD job or be unemployed. Black coaches are expected to perform miracles and when they don’t, they are fired and not given a second chance. The excuses used to not hire Bieniemy were that he doesn’t interview well, Andy Reid is the true offensive genius, Bieniemy had Patrick Mahomes, so coach Bieniemy moves laterally, but not up. Caucasian head coaches do not have to produce winners for years and years and years while African American coaches have to hit the runway in takeoff position with horrible teams.
The National Football League is failing the African American community with 70% Black players on the field and only 3 ½ let me repeat this 3 1/2 head coaches in the league 4 Black General Managers and 0 owners. This is shameful but it seems like the league really does not care.
There were four head coaching vacancies this spring: Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts. Many believed there would be at least an increase of two African American head coaches at the start of the 2023 season. WRONG!!! On February 14th Valentine’s Day the Arizona Cardinals hired Jonathan Gannon from the Philadelphia Eagles. The Indianapolis Colts hired Shane Steichen from the same Philadelphia Eagles football organization. So, both of these teams picked coaching assistance from the runner up to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile Super Bowl Champion Offensive Coordinator Eric Bienemy an African American with experience gets passed over again.
At the start of the 2023 season, there will only be one new Black head coach hired; DeMeco Ryans of the Houston Texans. Ryans is another example of this craziness as he leaves the number one defensive unit in the National Football League, The San Francisco 49ers defensive unit to head one of the worst defensive units the Houston Texans. If the pattern continues Ryans is expected to turn this last place team around within two years or less.
Meanwhile in South Florida there is a pending lawsuit against the NFL by former Miami Dolphin head coach Brain Flores with many more former African American head coaches and assistant coaches joining the suit. Flores informed the nation that the Miami organization wanted him to lose games to get higher draft choices. Flores now is an assistant coach with the Minnesota Vikings.
NFL organizations continue to ask Black coaches to take the worst teams in the league and make them winners at the same time they do not request this from Caucasian head coaches. Jim Caldwell led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl. His reward being shipped to the dysfunctional and last place Detroit Lions then fired.
Leslie Frazier took the Minnesota Vikings from worst to first in the Black and Blue division of the NFC Central, the biggest turnaround in team history and wwon Coach of the Year. An untimely catastrophic quarterback injury to Teddy Bridgewater gave Frazier’s reward banishment to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a 5-10-1 Viking record a year later in Minnesota.
Ray Rhodes was the first Black coach to take two teams to the playoffs, the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. His reward was ill health in his later years. He had to leave the league.
ONE YEAR AFRICAN AMERICAN HEAD COACHES
Eric Studesville coached the last four games of the 2010 season for the Denver Broncos. In Arizona, Steve Wilks had one season in Arizona (2018). Vance Joseph in 2017-2018 took the Denver Broncos one season without a quarterback. He is currently the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals and should be one of the head coaches in the league.
Perry Fewell coached the Buffalo Bills for 7 games in 2019. Lovie Smith tried his hand in Houston for one year with the Texans in 2022. He is the last African American with a one-year contract. The Texans are repeat offenders with Romeo Crennel (2020) and David Culley (2021). This team should be banished from the league.
Even in the second chance coaching situations it is four to one Todd Bowles now heads the Tampa Bay Bucs from the New York Jets, currently the only African American getting a second chance.
In three years, the NFL has completely turned over its head coaching positions with 17 hires out of 32 teams since 2020. With the consistent number limit of three to four Black head coaches with a net gain of 0.
It is very interesting that in the Southwest corner of the United States, teams build three new stadiums and all four are struggling with new head coaches. The Arizona Cardinals with new head coach Jonathan Gannon, The Los Angeles Chargers with head coach Brandon Staley, The Los Angeles Rams with Sean McVay and the Las Vegas Raiders with head coach Josh McDaniels. All of these coaches are under 40 years old and will be there for some time blocking African American chances to lead these four teams.
The Washington Football Club is a troubled franchise about to be sold with an owner (Dan Synder) losing control of his employees with sexual assault allegations flying all around. Head Coach Ron Rivera, hired in 2020, is the only Latin head coach in the league. Rivera is on life support in the capitol city if they don’t win in the 2023-24 season. The University of California Golden Bear graduate will be fighting for his coaching life next year. Maybe now with Eric Bieniemy calling the offensive plays there might be hope for Burgundy and Gold.
The Dallas Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy from the Green Bay Packers in 2020. Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys thought he could cherry pick the Packers and ride into a Super Bowl- WRONG. McCarthy has won only two playoff games in three years. McCarthy gets a pass because owner Jerry Jones likes him. The Atlanta Falcons hired Arthur Smith in 2021 and he has won a grand total of 14 games in two years. This is an example of an organization waiting for a Caucasian coach to rescue the franchise. The same time frame is not allowed for African American coaches.
CAUCASIAN HEAD COACHES
The Detroit Lions hired Dan Campbell in 2021 and the little kittens have won only 17 games in three years. If Campbell were of darker hue, he would receive his walking papers last year. The Lions have the opportunity for improvement after the quarterback trade with Los Angeles Rams Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff changing their offensive plays and still struggling. It is still a work in progress and it does not look promising.
The Los Angeles Chargers hired Brandon Staley in 2021 and it seems like the lightning bolts can’t turn the ship around in Southern California but the Chargers will stay with Staley. THE QUESTION SHOULD BE ASKED WHY? The Chargers started out strong both years only to stumble at the end of both seasons. Again, if Staley were African American, he would be looking for a job because he did not produce in the second season. The Chicago Bears hired Matt Eberflus in 2022 and the Bears landed in last place both years. Eberflus seems to be overwhelmed by the job and the Bears have floundered the last two years. Now just think if he were African American would Eberflus get a third year in the Midwest?
The New York Jets hired Robert Saleh in 2021 from the San Francisco 49ers. The Green Monsters still have not been in the playoffs since 2007. The negative trend might be ending in New York with Saleh. Next year could be Saleh’s last if he cannot put the New York Jets in the playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints hired Dennis Allen in 2022, winning 15 games in two years. The Saints are fighting the ghost of Sean Payton who moved on to Denver and will lead the Broncos in the 2023-24 season. This team is trying to find their new identity.
The New York Giants hired Brian Daboll in 2022 and he turned the Big Blue culture around making the playoffs and becoming the coach of the year in 2023. This is the way it should be done hiring the man for the organization. Picking the man/woman that fits your team. The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Doug Pederson from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. Pederson gave the reigns to Trevor Lawrence and the Jags responded with a playoff berth in 2023.
The Carolina Panthers hired Frank Reich from the Indianapolis Colts in 2023. This is the most glaring head coaching job that has failed the Rooney Rule. African American Steve Wilks was the interim head coach and guided the Panthers on their six-game winning streak, something the team has not done in Carolina in years. Did not matter Wilks moved on to San Francisco to become Defensive Coordinator for 49ers. The Panthers had the man that knew the organization and knew the players. Nope, they went outside and brought in Reich. This move reveals the motives of the National Football League- they really don’t care about African American head coaches.
BLACK HEAD COACHING HISTORY
We have come a long way since Frederick “Fritz” Pollard first Black head coach and quarterback in 1921 with the Akon Pros of the American Professional Football Association to the modern era first Black head coach Art Shell of the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders 1989. But with the current events we have a long way to go.
Roger Goodell and the National Football League must do a better job or Black head coaches will soon be extinct just like the dinosaurs. But maybe that’s the point. That’s exactly what they want, more money, more power off the backs of Blacks with no intent to share any of it. This has got to stop!
A NATIONAL BLACK FOOTBALL BOYCOTT may be not far behind. Money seems to be the only answer the National Football League responds to. Former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick was on the right track with his political movement for social justice. He has also paid the price.
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
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod