When Stephen Ross’ Miami Dolphins fired Brian Flores on Monday, it sent shockwaves around the NFL. For some reason, fans of all genders and races were stunned that Flores was unemployed as if Ross doesn’t have a long history of being a contradictory figure. This is the NFL, a place where Black coaches get treated like third-class citizens.
Over the next few days and weeks, multiple teams will be conducting interviews to fill their head coaching vacancies. And while that happens, the lack of Black coaches will be the most discussed talking point.
Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Houston’s David Culley are the lone Black head coaches in a league that’s over 70 percent Black. It’s reminiscent of the end of the 2018 season when five black head coaches were fired and were replaced with five white coaches, leaving Tomlin and Anthony Lynn as the only Black faces, at the time.
And since America loves to ignore blatant racism unless they can watch it on video or it can be quantified into numbers, Deadspin took a look at the plight of Black coaches in the NFL over the last 20-plus years. In 2000, there were three Black coaches in the league. Dennis Green took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. Tony Dungy led the Bucs to a Wild-Card Game. And Terry Robiskie served as an interim head coach in Washington – as the interim position would be the highest level he ever reached in his career.
Below is a look at every Black coach that’s been hired since then and a snapshot of their story.
The Jets hired Herm Edwards after they were 9-7 the year prior. Edwards was 10-6 in his first season and took the team to the second round of the playoffs. He was 41-44 in his tenure and took the Jets to the postseason in three of his five seasons. He was replaced by Eric Mangini who was 23-26 in three seasons with only one playoff appearance.
Tony Dungy was hired in Indianapolis after they went 6-10 before he arrived. In seven seasons with the Colts, Dungy was 92-33 as he made the playoffs every season and won Super Bowl XLI. He retired after the 2008 season and was replaced by Jim Caldwell who was the team’s coach-in-waiting, in a rare occurrence of a team having back-to-back Black coaches.
Marvin Lewis was hired by the Bengals after a 2-14 campaign. Lewis was 8-8 his first season. He stuck around for 15 more and was 131-129-3, but never won a playoff game in seven trips. He was replaced by Zac Taylor who is currently 16-32 in three seasons.
Lovie Smith was hired in Chicago after the Bears were 7-9 the year before, with Smith going 5-11 in his first season. The following year the team was 11-5 and Smith won Coach of the Year. In nine seasons in Chicago, Smith was 84-66 and made three postseason appearances – including losing Super Bowl XLI to the Colts in the only matchup that’s ever featured two Black coaches. Smith was replaced by Marc Trestman who only lasted two seasons and had a losing record.
Dennis Green was picked up in Arizona after Dave McGinnis had three consecutive losing seasons in the desert. Green was 16-32 during his tenure and was replaced by Ken Whisenhunt.
Romeo Crennel showed up in Cleveland after a season in which Butch Davis and Robiskie led the Browns to a 4-12 campaign. Crennel was 6-10 in his first season and lasted four years in Cleveland with a 24-20 record. He was replaced by Mangini who went 10-22 in two seasons.
Herm Edwards was hired in Kansas City after the team went 10-6 in Dick Vermeil’s last season. Edwards was with the Chiefs for three seasons and compiled a 15-34 record that included a postseason loss to the Colts in his debut year. Todd Haley took over for Edwards and was 19-26 during his run.
Art Shell did his second – and final – stint as the head coach for the Raiders, as he only lasted one year after posting a 2-14 record. The year before, Norv Turner was 4-12, and the year after Shell left, Lane Kiffin was 4-12 in his first season.
Mike Tomlin showed up in Pittsburgh after Bill Cowher was 8-8 in his final season and one year removed from winning a Super Bowl. Tomlin was 10-6 in his first season and is still in Pittsburgh. To date, he has a 162-93 record, is the youngest coach in league history to win a Super Bowl, has Pittsburgh in the playoffs for the tenth time in his tenure, and is the only coach in league history to begin his career with 15 straight non-losing seasons.
Mike Singletary took over midseason for the 49ers after Mike Nolan was fired after starting the season 2-5. Singletary went 5-4 as the interim coach to finish out the season. He was then hired full-time and was 8-8 in his lone full season. The next year he was fired after starting the season 5-10. He was replaced by Jim Harbaugh.
Jim Caldwell took over for Dungy with ease as he posted a 14-2 record in his first season as the Colts made it all the way to Super Bowl XLIV where they were upset by Drew Brees and the Saints. In his three seasons in Indianapolis, Caldwell was 28-24 and replaced by Chuck Pagano.
Raheem Morris was tabbed as the man to follow the Jon Gruden era in Tampa – a guy that still touts his Super Bowl title with the Bucs even though he coached a team that was crafted by Tony Dungy. Morris was 17-31 in three seasons and wound up being replaced by Greg Schiano, then Lovie Smith, and then Dirk Koetter – none of them fared much better.
Leslie Frazier was thrown into the fire in Minnesota in 2010 when the Vikings let go of Brad Childress after he started the season 3-7. Frazier finished the year 3-3, and got the interim tag taken off him. In his three full seasons with the Vikings he compiled an 18-20 record and was eventually replaced by Mike Zimmer – who was fired on Monday.
Hue Jackson only got one season to prove his worth with the Raiders after finishing 8-8 in a season in which the team started 7-4. Jackson took over for Tom Cable, who went 8-8 in his final season with the team. Jackson was replaced by Dennis Allen, a coach that went 8-28 in 2.5 seasons.
Romeo Crennel took the reins from Todd Haley that season when he was let go after a 5-8 start. Crennel finished out the season with the interim tag and went 2-1. In his lone season as Kansas City’s head coach, he went 2-14 and was replaced by Andy Reid.
Lovie Smith wasn’t able to capture the magic he had in Chicago with Tampa Bay. After inheriting a 4-12 team led by Greg Schiano, Smith only lasted two seasons after going 8-24. Dirk Koetter replaced Smith and wasn’t much better, as Tampa Bay didn’t get good again until Bruce Arians showed up in 2019.
Jim Caldwell was brought in after the Jim Schwartz (gym shorts) era ended with 4-12 and 7-9 seasons. Caldwell was only in Detroit for four seasons, but the Lions made two postseason appearances under him. He went 36-30 during his tenure and has been replaced by a litany of coaches that haven’t been able to get the Lions to sniff the playoffs since he was fired.
Todd Bowles was hired after Rex Ryan’s roller coaster ride with the Jets ended with a 4-12 finish in 2014. Bowles went 10-6 in his first season and was 24-40 in his four years on the sidelines for the Jets. He was replaced by Adam Gase, a guy that went 9-23 in two seasons.
Hue Jackson’s second stint as an NFL head coach was atrocious as he was 1-31 in his first two seasons in Cleveland. He was fired 8 games into his third season and finished with a 3-36-1 record.
Vance Joseph showed up in Denver after Gary Kubiak stepped down two years after the Broncos won a Super Bowl. Joseph only lasted two seasons and finished with an 11-21 record. He was replaced by Vic Fangio who was fired on Sunday.
The Chargers hired Anthony Lynn after Mike McCoy went 4-12 and 5-11 in his last two seasons. Lynn took the Chargers back to the playoffs in 2018 where they lost to the Patriots in the second round. He compiled a 34-32 record in four seasons and was replaced by Brandon Stanley.
Steve Wilks didn’t do a good job in his first season with the Cardinals, but we’ll never know if it was a fluke or the norm, as it was also his only season in Arizona. After taking over for Bruce Arians who went 8-8 in his final season, Wilks was 3-13 and was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury.
After a long career as an assistant with the Patriots, Brian Flores got a chance to run his own team when the Dolphins came calling in 2019. Flores was replacing Adam Gase who was 23-25 in three seasons, as he went 24-25 in three seasons. Flores was fired on Monday despite leading the Dolphins to seven straight wins in the second half.
The Houston Texans brought David Culley in to clean up the mess that Bill O’Brien left after he underachieved with J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, and DeAndre Hopkins — on top of trading Hopkins and getting into it with Watt. O’Brien was let go after starting the 2020 season 0-4, as the Texans finished 4-12 under interim coach Romeo Crennel. Cully was 4-13 this past season.
Source Here: deadspin.com