The conversation about race is not going to go away anytime soon—in fact, it’s in the headlines right now, more so than it usually is even at this time of year, when it’s a point of focus during the hiring cycles for head coaches, coordinators, and general managers.
This all comes in the wake of the filing of a lawsuit by Brian Flores, who is black, alleging that the league’s hiring practices do not treat minorities fairly or equally. The Rooney Rule, designed to give more minorities more opportunities for interviews in leadership positions, he suggests, is often just a rubber stamp, with the actual interviews not being taken seriously.
Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers owner and the son of the person who inspired the name of the Rooney Rule, issued comments earlier today on the subject of the league’s hiring practices. While he did not comment specifically on the lawsuit, and acknowledged that the NFL could be doing better in terms of representation at the head coaching level, he nevertheless saw progress in other areas and remained committed to improving the circumstances through policy. You can read his statement below:
Statement from Steelers president Art Rooney II today on the Rooney Rule: pic.twitter.com/E4A4lKQGLu
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 3, 2022
At the moment, there are three minority head coaches in the NFL, with Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers the only black head coach. While I don’t have the numbers on the total number of minority coordinators, currently, there are only two black offensive coordinators. There are eight black special teams coordinators, however, and 11 black defensive coordinators. But it is the offensive pipeline that receives the most attention for head coaching opportunities.
Additionally, there are four minority general managers, whereas recently there was just one. The Steelers are likely to add one to that total later this year. But there is only one minority team president, and only two teams’ owners groups include at least one majority owner who is a minority—Kim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills, and Shad Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It is the head coaching role that draws the most attention, however, every offseason, as it is considered the most important leadership job in the sport, and thus, many feel, should be representative of the players in the league. There have been nine job openings for head coach so far this offseason. The four that have been officially filled have gone to white men; thus far, none of the other openings are favored to go to a minority.
The Steelers, of course, have employed Tomlin as their head coach for the past 15 seasons. They have had two prominent minorities in their front office for quite a while in Omar Khan, Vice President of Football and Business Administration, and Brandon Hunt, Pro Scouting Coordinator. It remains likely that one of them will succeed Kevin Colbert as general manager later this year.
There is also a strong chance that Teryl Austin will succeed Keith Butler as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator