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How the NFL disadvantages Black coaches

Mike Tomlin, head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is one of three Black head coaches this NFL season, out of 32 total.
Mike Tomlin, head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is one of three Black head coaches this NFL season, out of 32 total.

Two decades ago, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule in an attempt to expand diversity among head coaches. It requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for an open position.

A new Washington Post investigation, “Black Out,” suggests that 20 years later, the Rooney Rule has largely failed.

In the NFL, 58 percent of players are Black and just a quarter are White. As recently as last decade, nearly 70 percent of the players were Black.

But just 11 percent of full-time head coaches since 1990 have been Black. During that time, 154 White men have served as an NFL head coach, compared with 20 Black men.

In each of the past four seasons, including this one, just three of the league’s 32 head coaches have been Black. And almost two decades after the Rooney Rule was implemented, 13 teams have never hired a Black full-time head coach.

The Post also found that Black coaches are more likely to be fired and have fewer, narrower paths to the top.

We talk to two sports writers who spent months talking to coaches and crunching the numbers.

Why has the NFL failed to expand diversity among head coaches? What does it mean for players, coaches, teams, and America?

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Avery Kleinman