The hometown Buccaneers head into Super Bowl LV Sunday in Tampa against the Kansas City Chiefs with one, two, three Black coordinators. Another African American serves as assistant head coach in charge of the running game.
This is the NFL’s worst nightmare.
OK, maybe that’s a little harsh, but probably not. While NFL bosses were slick enough last season to make a record $16 billion, they remained clueless, insincere or both regarding the hiring of Black head coaches.
Exactly a year ago, even though 70 percent of NFL players were Black, just two of the 19 openings for head coaching jobs during the previous three seasons were filled by African Americans.
Nothing has changed.
Actually, given the NFL’s supposedly enhanced Rooney Rule that includes the awarding of draft picks and maybe free cable for a month as an incentive for teams to produce Black candidates, it’s digressing. The league remains heavily African American, but it has just three Black head coaches, and one was hired after this past regular season despite seven openings.
So here’s a thought: Secretly, this is what more than a few NFL folks want. Which means the late Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder blurted out the unspoken truth for many (see below), and that was 33 years and the NFL hiring of a slew of obscure white head coaches ago.
Here’s another thought: Embarrassment.
Everybody into social justice should make NFL decision-makers turn various shades of their team’s colors by rooting like crazy for the Buccaneers and those Black coaches, but nothing against the Chiefs.
If extraordinary Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes spends his second consecutive year joining his teammates in grabbing the Super Bowl winner’s share that Althon Sports projects as $130,000 per player this year, compared to the loser’s share of $65,000, that’s fine.
It’s just that, to stifle that NFL mantra of “We can’t find them” regarding Black candidates for head coaching jobs, the Buccaneers are the first team in the league’s 100-plus seasons with three Black coordinators (Byron Leftwich on offense, Todd Bowles on defense and Keith Armstrong with special teams), and NFL decision-makers like to boast of hiring head coaches from among coordinators.
Tampa Bay also has that Black assistant head coach (Harold Goodwin) who coordinates the running game.
Next to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and some quarterback named Tom Brady, Leftwich, Bowles, Armstrong and Goodwin are the primary reasons the Buccaneers don’t reek anymore after going eight of the previous nine seasons before this one without a winning record.
Arians arrived in Tampa two seasons ago, and he brought along his four African American stars in waiting among coaches. They’ve prospered enough this NFL season — ranging from Leftwich drawing X’s and O’s for a seventh-place finish for the Buccaneers in total offense to Bowles operating a sack-producing monster with five interceptions and 20 passes defended in three playoff games — to make this a splendid Black History Month, even before Ground Hog Day.
“When I was playing as a young guy in college, there were only two Black coaches on each staff. You’d have one on offense and one on defense, and if you didn’t play for that specific position coach, you really weren’t around him much,’’ Armstrong told reporters through Zoom this week, recalling his running back, wide receiver and defensive back days under Arians at Temple University before Armstrong’s seven years as a college coach and his last 27 in the NFL.
“We’ve got a lot of diversity here (in Tampa) with good relationships,” Armstrong continued. “I think as a young coach and a young player, you have somebody to look up to and you have somebody that you can go talk to and somebody you can talk to about the same [issues].
“We all have the same issues. I think that’s a big part of it.”
There’s that, and there is Armstrong, Leftwich, Goodwin and Bowles owning resumes as good or better than those of Arthur Smith, Dan Campbell, Brandon Staley and those other white coaches who sent you to Google
See where this is going?
If the Buccaneers win, their four Black lieutenants will become NFL generals sooner rather than later.
Well, maybe a couple of them.
Any of them?
Sounds like Snyder was too prophetic for many in January 1988 before CBS executives fired their legenary NFL oddsmaker in a hurry after his on-air chat with a TV reporter over lunch at a Washington D.C. restaurant.
No, Snyder didn’t get whacked so much for saying Blacks were “bred” to becone superior athletes by mothers with big thighs during slavery.
Courtesy of a nod from a lot of decision-makers everywhere, the network got rid of Snyder for the other thing.
Snyder said of Black athletes . . .
”They’ve got everything. If they take over coaching like everybody wants them to, there’s not going to be anything left for the white people. . . . I mean, all the players are black. I mean, the only thing that the whites control is the coaching jobs.”
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