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View Full Version : Black NFL coaches: The hiring policy


stolichnaya
01-07-2004, 02:07 PM
So the NFL now is using a database to keep track of how often African-American coaches are interviewed for head coaching jobs when there is a vacancy. They are enforcing this policy by manipulating draft choices in some way. (please correct me if you have better data)

Near as I can tell, the main change that has occurred is that Dennis Green and Ray Rhodes are having a busy interview season. Not a black coach myself, I still can't help but find this kind of insulting.

Obviously, the league can't make teams hire black coaches. They can, apparently, make teams INTERVIEW black coaches. But then you have a situation where, if you've made a decision, you must still bring in a black man for an interview, in a charade that seems pointless for both sides.

Is this a good move or a bad move for the NFL?

I know there is all kinds of Affirmative Action baggage in this question- for the time being, I'd like to discuss it within the specific universe of the NFL. I stipulate that there is a problem with a lack of black coaches in a sport where black athletes are the overwhelming majority, I'm just wondering if this is the way to handle it.

kidchameleon
01-07-2004, 02:38 PM
Well, obviously we should mandate that the players racial make up match that of the national make up. The amount of black players is totally out of whack compared to the size of the population they make up.

Or we can just let them fight for jobs based upon their ability. have a hard time that given the typical "money and winning" first mentality of owners keeps coaches out just because of their skin color.

And why anyone bothers with Ray Rhodes is beyond me...

ElvisL1ves
01-07-2004, 02:38 PM
It's a charade any time you invite someone in for an interview when you've decided upon someone else, sure. But I suspect it's had an effect over the several years it's been in place. More owners have met more black coaches, and been impressed by them, and thereby made themselves more likely to consider one of them the next time they look - and that's pretty often. Tony Dungy and Marvin Lewis are examples of black coaches who certainly did their fair share of token interviews, but eventually did get real jobs and proved themselves in them. They paid their dues not unlike the old boys who came before them, and they're now part of the old boys' club themselves - and that's really what it's all about; white coaches who aren't already in the club have a similar barrier.

Is this the way to handle it? Given that voluntary approaches hadn't been effective, this seems like the mildest forced approach available. Teams aren't required to hire anybody based on race, or even to be sincere about interview invitations, but it's having an effect anyway.

kidchameleon
01-07-2004, 02:56 PM
Well, obviously we should mandate that the players racial make up match that of the national make up. The amount of black players is totally out of whack compared to the size of the population they make up.

Or we can just let them fight for jobs based upon their ability. have a hard time that given the typical "money and winning" first mentality of owners keeps coaches out just because of their skin color.

And why anyone bothers with Ray Rhodes is beyond me...

jeevmon
01-07-2004, 03:07 PM
Originally posted by kidchameleon
Or we can just let them fight for jobs based upon their ability. have a hard time that given the typical "money and winning" first mentality of owners keeps coaches out just because of their skin color.



Counterargument would be that these jobs tend to be a revolving door. Coaches get fired from one job, and show up in another place. African-American coaching candidates have had a hard time getting on that carousel. It is, however, starting to happen. But the "money and winning first" mentality of owners tends to lead them to prefer candidates who, if nothing else, have head coaching experience, over those who do not. Thus, Bill Parcells will have a job until such time as he retires for real. It's not really about skin color directly, but about a history of past prejudice that kept African-Americans out of top coaching positions, combined with a modern preference for those who have coaching experience versus those who do not.

The NFL's interview policy is a blunt tool to address this concern, but it is a legitimate concern.

Jimmy Chitwood
01-07-2004, 09:32 PM
It's absolutely a legitimate concern, and like ElvisL1ves mentioned, the mandatory interview system does seem to be having an effect on the hiring practices of NFL teams. It's not perfect, and you'll get ludicrous situations like the one in Detroit last year- Matt Millen paid a $200K fine because he failed to interview a minority candidate, even though he offered interviews to several black coaches. The black coaches declined to interview, because everyone knew that Millen was going to hire Steve Mariucci, which he did (story.) (http://www.cincypost.com/2003/07/26/nfl07-26-2003.html) Millen, idiot though he is, had a serious complaint there, I guess.

Otherwise, though, I don't think the rule puts undue pressure on teams hiring a head coach, as they can still interview and/or hire whomever they choose- they just have to add an additional interview if they haven't given one to a minority candidate. The way I look at it, if they've made their decision like the Lions had, they only need to give one more interview to satisfy the requirement. More importantly, if they haven't made a decision at all, the team is probably going to do at least five or six interviews, so one of them might as well be the most qualified minority candidate, and now it will be.

spake stolichnaya: Not a black coach myself, I still can't help but find this kind of insulting.

Agreed, but it's certainly not more insulting than the climate which has led to this kind of practice being necessitated, do you think? I mean, if I were a black would-be head coach, and given the choice between trying to break into the old-boy network with the guaranteed (but perhaps token) interview, and trying to break in without it, I think I would take the interview. If it doesn't hurt anyone, and it gives at least one guy a little exposure, it's working better than nothing, which is good. There are very few head coaching jobs available at any given time, so just getting the interview does mean something, even if it isn't a hire right then and there.

capacitor
01-07-2004, 10:06 PM
The interview process, even if one that everyone knows is just a trial run or formality, is very helpful to the intervieweee. That way, he can get feedback as to how well he did, and what adjustments he needs to make to better tailor his responses and portfolio in the next interview.

Also, more importantly, if he is interviewed by the GM or one of the owners, he can gain insights on how they tick and interact with them.

capacitor
01-07-2004, 10:09 PM
By the way, if any owner decides to hire Rich Kotite, he should be required to sell the team.

eli_the_fanatic
01-07-2004, 11:25 PM
I think the practice can be a sham, as the OP suggests. However, as ElvisLives suggests, it can make a difference. Dennis Green originally went to Arizona, I suspect, as a token interview. He made a good impression and they ended up hiring them.

There are no benefits in the form of draft picks or anything else.

Also, the reaction of kidchameleon slightly misses the point. There are a lot of black players... which is exactly why the league wants more black coaches and black quarterbacks. It's bad to have the image of white leadership and black labor, which is basically what the NFL looks like when there's blacks everywhere except calling the shots. Of course they are millionaires, but it still looks bad. I should also point out that the NFL doesn't do this because the government or liberals told them to, they do it because they want to manage their own image, and how they appeal to black people, which is a huge percentage of their television audience.

furt
01-07-2004, 11:27 PM
Good God. Rich Kotite.

Gotta be example A-1 of how networked coaches are given multiple chances to show their incompetence.

eli_the_fanatic
01-07-2004, 11:27 PM
Excuse me. They ended up hiring HIM. Dennis Green is a big guy, so it's easy to accidentally use the plural.

stolichnaya
01-07-2004, 11:37 PM
As a Philly fan, I think Kotite was hired there under the well-meaning program intended to increase the percentage of coaches distracted by shiny objects.

I see your point(s). Obviously it is having an effect. And if I put myself in their shoes, I would understand. It just seems a bit ham-handed.

I suppose if Denny and the like aren't complaining, then why should I.

Airman Doors, USAF
01-08-2004, 12:53 AM
As long as the only black coaches they interview are people like Art Shell, Dennis Green, and Ray Rhoades, it'll always be a token process. Those guys are also-rans who got chewed up and spit out by their own teams.

There needs to be some new blood in the NFL coaching ranks, be it black OR white. I think Marvin Lewis was an outstanding choice, and I thought Pittsburgh should have taken Tony Dungy when they were looking to replace Noll and he was an assistant there (although Cowher's worked out pretty well), so I was glad to see him getting it done elsewhere. But truthfully, there really aren't any standout assistant black coaches that I've been hearing about, so maybe it's time to start tapping the college level for some assistants to groom into outstanding pro coaches.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-08-2004, 01:00 AM
Dennis Green is legit. He had the Vikings in the playoffs almost every year he coached them. He has a great eye for offensive talent and he's an excellent regular season coach. He never got to the show but he was always in contention and he did have a 15 and 1 year.

He has a much better resume than Rhodes or Shell.

Cheesesteak
01-08-2004, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by ElvisL1ves
More owners have met more black coaches, and been impressed by them, and thereby made themselves more likely to consider one of them the next time they look - and that's pretty often. This is an excellent point that I never thought of before.

I still think the Millen incident stinks to high heaven, offering interviews and conducting them in a professional manner should be enough.

Skammer
01-08-2004, 08:40 AM
Originally posted by Airman Doors, USAF
But truthfully, there really aren't any standout assistant black coaches that I've been hearing about, so maybe it's time to start tapping the college level for some assistants to groom into outstanding pro coaches. I don't know, I've heard a lot of good things about New England DC Romeo Crennel. He's had a few interviews, and was widely expected to be hired by the Giants, but so far nothing.

Which, as a Pats fan, is fine with me. I'd just as soon keep him where he is :)

bordelond
01-08-2004, 08:41 AM
Originally posted by Airman Doors, USAF
But truthfully, there really aren't any standout assistant black coaches that I've been hearing about, so maybe it's time to start tapping the college level for some assistants to groom into outstanding pro coaches.

There are quite a few black assistant coaches in the NFL who are primed for a shot. They're probably not getting mainstream ink, though -- you have to hit the pro-football-junkie websites like www.kffl.com and www.footballguys.com .

Rams DC Lovie Smith, for one, is probably the leading candidate for the Falcons HC job ... but you'll hear more about that once the Rams' season ends.

Patriots DC Romeo Crennell is bubbling under, and will get his shot very soon. Redently-fired Jets DC Ted Cotrell has built a very good rep around the league despite his recent career setback -- I wouldn't be surprised to see Cotrell heading up a pro squad before long.

A developing coaching talent is Parcells protege Maurice Carthon, currrently the OC of the Cowboys. This guy will have a HC job eventually.

IzzyR
01-08-2004, 09:00 AM
Part of the perception problem is that the concept that the percentage of black head coaches should match the percentage of black NFL players assumes that the population of black head coaches is drawn from the population of NFL players. This is not correct - most coaches only played in college or had very brief NFL careers. College football is a lot whiter than NFL football, so the populations don't match up.

As kidchameleon pointed out, the percentage of black players in the NFL is out of whack as compared to the population of the US - more so than the percentage of white coaches (I think). And there is little correlation between the ability to play sports and the ability to coach sports - one is a physical talent and one a mental one.

I think it is all about the owners keeping the simple-minded players happy.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-08-2004, 09:08 AM
Why do you say the players are "simple-minded?"

Actually, I think it's much more like what eli said, the NFL wants to diminish the image of white leadership/ black labor.

Marks 1st wife
01-08-2004, 09:20 AM
I am not a sports fan, but I can not for the life of me see what 'color' has to do with whether a person is qualified for a job or not.

bordelond
01-08-2004, 10:02 AM
Originally posted by IzzyR
I think it is all about the owners keeping the simple-minded players happy.

Not nearly. Pressure to implment minority-friendly interviewing processes came almost totally from outside the NFL (Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Johnnie Cochran, et al).

jeevmon
01-08-2004, 10:48 AM
Originally posted by Marks 1st wife
I am not a sports fan, but I can not for the life of me see what 'color' has to do with whether a person is qualified for a job or not.

It doesn't, intrinsically, but if people of color are being systematically tracked out of positions where they can become qualified because of overt or covert prejudice, then that is an issue. I remember that African-American quarterbacks, for example, were still a relative novelty in both college and pro ranks when Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham first started playing. There was an implicit assumption that African-Americans just weren't smart enough to run a football offense. That situation is thankfully improving.

But the same assumption that pervaded the training and development of quarterbacks also applied, with greater force, to coaching. That assumption, plus the fact that head coaching positions in all sports tend to be revolving doors for people who have already been coaches, has led to a dearth of minority coaching candidates.

Again, I'm not convinced that the mandatory minority candidate interview is the best means of dealing with the issue, but I am convinced that there is an issue to be dealt with.

IzzyR
01-08-2004, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by Diogenes the Cynic
Why do you say the players are "simple-minded?"Well most people are simple-minded, at least to the extent that they will fail to realize the point I made here and assume that there should be a direct relationship between NFL player percentage and NFL coaching percentage. My impression of players is that they tend to be dumber than average, not smarter. With exceptions, of course. But in any event, the relevant factor here is not whether the players are more simple-minded than anyone else but the fact that they are the ones the league is trying to make happy. The other simple-minded people are less relevant.Actually, I think it's much more like what eli said, the NFL wants to diminish the image of white leadership/ black labor.But who are the people (that count) who care about this image? I haven't seen a great outrage from the fans about the issue.

As an aside, it would be interesting to see the league hire 75% black coaches. Then the exact same issue would resurface in terms of black coaches and white ownership. I'd like to see a rule that any owner looking to sell his team has to interview a black potential buyer. :D

Originally posted by bordelond
Pressure to implment minority-friendly interviewing processes came almost totally from outside the NFL (Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Johnnie Cochran, et al).My impression is that while these people are the rabble-rousers who turned up the heat on this issue, the pressure point that they have is the majority black players. But I could be wrong.

Lord Ashtar
01-08-2004, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by capacitor
By the way, if any owner decides to hire Rich Kotite, he should be required to sell the team.

I didn't know who this guy was, so I Googled him and came up with this (http://members.tripod.com/~itpa/kotite.html). Enjoy.

Cheesesteak
01-08-2004, 12:01 PM
Originally posted by IzzyR
My impression of players is that they tend to be dumber than average, not smarter. On this point, you're likely wrong. Football is an extraordinarily complex game that requires a great deal of study in addition to physical skill. Some positions are simpler than others, but most of them are not simple at all.