Black Like Me In The NFL
In 2007, has the African-American coach finally been given his props? If you watched Superbowl XLI, you may believe that he has. We all took notice of the historic moment when coaches Tony Dungy (Colts) and Lovie Smith (Bears) stepped onto the turf at Dolphin Stadium… it was inevitable, that for the first time an African-American (head) coach would lift the Lombardi Trophy in victory.
Remarkably, Lovie Smith lost the game and shortly thereafter came to terms on a contract extension. It was long overdue because prior to leading the Bears to Superbowl XLI, he was the lowest paid coach in the league. He has led HIS team to greater success during his three years at the helm and he still had to publicly lobby for a contract that was market value. The Bears haven’t had this level of success since the glory days of the ’85 Bears… but who cares he got PAID (4yrs./22m)!
How many times did we hear about Tony Dungy being a good coach and not a great coach. He’s too soft and doesn’t motivate his players was all the buzz before he won it all. John Gruden walk right into Buccaners job and won a Superbowl with Dungy’s players and all I recall is how the media praised Gruden as a football genius. Let me ask you, how is that franchise doing since Gruden has coached without Dungy’s players?
The NFL presently has 6 African-American (head) coaches out of the possible 32 teams (18%). Respect to the KC Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Indy Colts, Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Cincinnati Bengals. These #s don’t make you shout WE HAVE OVERCOME, but you have to look at it for what it is… a little progress.
Before you get carried away with the idea of progress, this is still a league with 0% of its owners being of African-American descent. Now that the coaching myth has been shattered the time is now to focus on the real struggle… getting African-Americans access to positions of authority and power.
The glass ceiling is no longer the head coaching position… it is in the front office and at the ownership level.