Jackson State head football coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders spoke about the lack of diversity in the NFL’s leadership positions recently.
In a league where over 70 percent of its employees are Black, there are only two Black coaches. He’s also of the belief that the only way to get Blacks hired fairly is to add three new expansion teams and only allow them to be sold to Black owners.
Sanders mentioned what has long been understood; that you can’t make current owners hire someone they don’t want to.
There were nine head coach openings, and the only Blacks that were hired were Lovie Smith and Mike McDaniel, who is biracial but clearly has chosen not to identify with his Black dad’s side of the family.
Smith was hired by the completely dysfunctional Houston Texans knowing they will eventually have former NFL journeyman QB Josh McCown lead the team. But not until he learns the ropes from Lovie, as McCown has only been a head coach at the high school level.
So, in essence, Smith was a token hire following the lawsuit by former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the NFL. McDaniel replaces the aforementioned Flores.
On his “21st and Prime” podcast Sanders, had this to say this week:
“We’re going at it the wrong way. We’re trying to entice billionaires who are at least 50 or 60 years and older and grew up in a different time and era to hire who you desire them to hire, when in fact they are where they are, they’re a billionaire because of the decisions that they made personally, assisted by a staff I’m pretty sure.”
No NFL Majority Owner Is Black: Rooney Rule, Enacted In 2003, Hasn’t Changed Much
The NFL has never had a Black majority owner of one of its 32 franchises; therefore, the dynamic has always been a situation where Black candidates are at the mercy of white employers, resulting in most qualified Black coaches getting overlooked. The Rooney Rule was supposed to help level the playing field by forcing teams to interview at least one minority candidate for all head coaching vacancies.
That could change with media mogul Byron Allen, who’s been encouraged by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, to bid on an NFL team when one comes on the market.
“NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft came to me in November of 2019 and asked me to take a good look at buying an NFL team. And after serious consideration, I strongly believe I can help effectuate positive changes throughout the league. And for that reason, I will be making a bid for the Denver Broncos.”
NFL Owners Seem To Go Out Of Their Way Not To Hire Blacks: It Looks Obvious
Outside of the Mike Tomlin hire in 2007, when the team and ownership that the Rooney rule was founded by used it correctly, when has it been used properly? Or maybe owners are just not interested in hiring someone that doesn’t look like them. But as Deion said, you can’t force them to change who they are.
For more on Deion Sanders’ suggestions for improving diversity and minority hiring in NFL positions of leadership, click here.
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