The National Football League will dominant the national landscape again this weekend with the conference championships games on Jan. 19.
There will be many fans rooting for the transcendent Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who lit the Houston Texans up like a Cuban cigar in the divisional round.
No one will pause and think about the elephant in the room that has continued to haunt the NFL since the late Al Davis hired Art Shell as the first Black head coach of the modern era in 1990.
I recall asking Davis about the historical hire when named Shell as pilot of the L.A. Raiders in 1990.
Davis was uncomfortable with the question and refused to answer it. Shell was one of his favorite Raiders and people and he knew that just as monumental as it was that he made history when picking Shell, that he ultimately was going to fire him.
As Davis would explain to me, the only job more difficult than being head coach in the NFL is being President of the United States.
This year will mark the 30th anniversary of that monumental NFL achievement, and now only three Blacks command the sidelines as head coach in a league which employs 80 percent Black players.
This week the elephant in the room reared its ivory tusks again when the NFL swiftly went through a round of job openings, hiring positions coaches, college coaches and of course the usual rethreads.
Ron Rivera, the former Panthers coach is the only minority among the bunch, and anybody who expected Cleveland to hire a Black coach with the last hire should have dived head first into a frozen Lake Erie.
The Pittsburgh Steelers with Mike Tomlin, the Miami Dolphins with Brian Flores and the Chargers with Anthony Lynn are the only teams with Black coaches.
Flores coaches one of the most woeful organizations in the league, Tomlin coaches one of the league’s most storied franchises and has been at the helm for 13 seasons and never had a losing record.
Tomlin won one Super Bowl, been to two and coached in a conference title game.
Perhaps the NFL is too powerful, too big for its own britches. The exclusive country club of white owners is the most difficult fraternity to crack. Even billionaire Blacks have decided to not apply and go through the scrutiny.
There is no amount of pressure that could change the status quo. They set their own rules, Rooney Rule be damn and change them to their liking if they damn well choose, and every time a game is on television you will stop what you are doing and make it the center of your universe.
Advertisers will pay any amount to be associated with the NFL, even if it does not increase the bottom line, and here is really no proof that it does. It’s the mere association with the NFL that is the carrot on the top.
The players in the league accept it there is a lack of Black coaches and Blacks in other aspects of the organization, the assistant coaches in the league accept it, the players association accepts it and for the most part, no one can do anything about it.
Do I personally wish there were more Black head coaches in the NFL? It depends on the situation. I dam sure didn’t want Hue Jackson to go to Cleveland instead of the New York Giants, but he did and will likely never get another shot.
So, I’m rooting for Lynn and the Chargers to win a Super Bowl, and I would hope that the fans of Inglewood and the surrounding communities support Lynn and the Chargers.
On the other hand, the start-up XFL with its handful of teams has as many Black coaches as the NFL.
A longtime defensive assistant for the Packers, Winston Moss will take up head coaching duties for the first time in his career for the Los Angeles franchise that will play in Carson. Following a decade-long playing career, he first hit the sidelines in 1998 and has specialized in defense and linebackers since then, most famously serving as assistant head coach/LBs coach for Green Bay from 2007-2018, helping the Packers win Super Bowl XLV in 2010.
The XFL St. Louis team will be coached by Jonathan Hayes, who will be making his head-coaching debut after 16 years as the tight ends coach in Cincinnati.
And the XFL Washington D.C. team will be coached by Pep Hamilton, famous for instructing Andrew Luck as Stanford’s QBs coach before a promotion to the NFL, where he also paired with Luck as the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator from 2013-2015. Hamilton is a longtime offensive assistant with stops across both college and the pros. He’s logged 12 different positions with three schools and five NFL teams since starting his career in 1997.
So, as you can see the qualifications of becoming a head coach in the NFL is what the owners of their respective teams want it to be, but the bottom line is always the same. Just Win Baby!