By Chris Schisler
The National Football League is essentially being called out by Brian Flores’s lawsuit. First of all, you have to feel for Flores here. He gets fired after making the Miami Dolphins a relevant team, in a move that seemingly came out of nowhere; Bill Belichick texts the wrong Brian and Flores, and that’s how Flores learned he didn’t get the New York Giants job. Six head coaching vacancies have been filled and all six head coaches are white.
Meanwhile, there are some very good head coaching candidates that haven’t gotten a fair shake this offseason. You could make a case that four of the best candidates this offseason were black candidates.
You can make a case the best candidates were all black coaches:
Bryon Leftwich is an up-and-coming offensive coordinator that was close to getting the Jacksonville job before removing himself from contention. He’s learned under some strong coaches, most recently Bruce Arians and he was a former quarterback. Players would instantly give him their respect because he played the game with heart and knows the game from the other side of the locker room. He knows life as the starter and the backup.
Jim Caldwell was the last Detroit Lions coach to make the Detroit Lions look like a legitimate franchise. Matt Patricia took everything Caldwell built in Detroit and ran it into the ground. Dan Campbell is actually quite likable, but it’s clear that the Lions are a garbage organization. Matthew Stafford had the same effect on the Rams that Tom Brady had on the Buccaneers. Stafford legitimized the Rams and they now await the Super Bowl. Three of Caldwell’s four seasons were winning seasons in Detroit and he was the last coach to get anything out of Stafford in Detroit.
Caldwell of course won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. He was the offensive coordinator that orchestrated Joe Flacco’s majestic Super Bowl run in the 2012 season, and he had a long run as a head coach for Wake Forest at the college level. He’s the safest bet at the coaching position. He has a lot more positive experience to bank on than Doug Pederson did. Why did Pederson automatically get to rebound into a head coaching job? If Caldwell had been interested in any of these jobs, he should have landed one. He’s a proven coach with an actual legacy. Pederson is the blind squirrel who found a nut, Caldwell has a whole collection of acorns ready to go.
NFL Should be looking for the next Tony Dungy or Mike Tomlin
Then there is Eric Bieniemy, the right-hand man to Andy Reid. I’ll never figure out why he hasn’t gotten a head coaching spot. The New Orleans Saints suspiciously want to interview him, quite suddenly they announced it. The interview itself looks like a way to make the league look better.
The Houston Texans declared Flores a finalist for their job search, another cost-free way to improve bad publicity for the league. Okay, you have four legitimate candidates who sound like a better gamble than some of the names that got hired for the coaching vacancies this year. You have four black candidates that should be standing out as the cream of the crop, who aren’t getting the jobs.
The Rooney rule has never been called into greater question. Is it a rule that sets up sham interviews with minority coaching candidates? You’d think that NFL owners would be looking for the next Mike Tomlin, one of the longest-tenured coaches in the NFL. Lovie Smith took the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl. Tony Dungy is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Denny Green is an icon we’ll never forget. Herm Edwards had a long great run.
We have a lot of examples of black head coaches, and many of them have had great chapters for their respective franchises. It never seems to change though. Now, the NFL is being called out for the unequal treatment of minority coaches and coaching candidates. Just from the perspective of hirings, you have to see that point.
The Bottom Line:
Don’t tell me it’s about the best man for the job. I’d take Caldwell over Pederson 100 out of 100 times, and their resumes speak to why. As for Bieniemy, if Andy Reid relies and vouches on you, you’re a great coach with invaluable wisdom and creativity. Reid gave John Harbaugh a chance and Harbaugh (as a special teams coach no less) got a chance way before Bieneiemy even became a candidate.
NEXT POST: NFL Overtime debate: Bills deserve loss, but we deserve a new format
If the best candidate always got the job, black and minority coaches would have a much bigger fingerprint on the game. When you look at coaching resumes, and you look at the body of work from the candidates, you have to see how some of these things don’t add up. When Doug Pederson gets a quick second chance as a head coach, and these candidates are still out there, it’s mind-numbing. The NFL has issues. This is just one side of this issue. No matter how you want to slice it up, a single blog post isn’t getting to the bottom of the whole big picture here.