Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, is this year’s Black coach NFL teams consider a commodity. That’s significant because usually there are no Black candidates the league gives more than a token consideration.
That’s a column for another day—the farce that is the Rooney Rule, which was purportedly created to give African-Americans more opportunities to become NFL head coaches.
The interest for today is Bowles, the former NFL defensive back who has shown himself to be a strong defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals. Reports have surfaced that he could be the leading candidate to replace fired Mike Smith, who was bounced by the Falcons after another abysmal season.
Bowles would be the first Black coach in the franchise’s history. Best of all, he’s worthy of the job. He’s worked his way up from retired player to position coach to defensive coordinator. The job he did with the Cardinals this season, a year in which they were ravaged with injuries, was outstanding.
He had a five-hour interview with the team’s leadership last week, according to reports, and was categorized as the leading candidate. Bowles played eight seasons in the NFL as a safety, mostly with the Washington Redskins. He was an efficient player who got the most out of his talents. And those are the players who make the best coaches, history has displayed.
History also has shown that one Black coaching prospect at a time is about all the NFL can or is willing to handle. Bowles has been considered by multiple reports a top candidate not just for the Falcons, but also the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers.
When Tony Dungy finally, after nearly two decades as an assistant, became a head-coaching candidate, he had many suitors. Same with Lovie Smith, now head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Sad that Smith, Detroit’s Jim Caldwell, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis are the only Black coaches in the NFL, a league that insists it wants more Black coaches.
Bowles looks to be a shoo-in to increase that number to five. That’s progress, however incremental.