College and pro football still struggle to give many African-American coaches a chance to lead a team.


The Plight of Black Football Coaches: The Second Time Often Does Not Come Around

In 1979, R&B group Shalamar sang that the second time around is better than the first time.

However, for African-American football coaches in the pros and college, the second time around often does not come around at all.

Coaching football is not for the faint of heart.

One minute the whole city or school loves you, and the next minute they want to run you and your family out of town.

Although coaching is hard and unstable, many critics believe that African-American coaches do not get the same benefit of the doubt.

New Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin has blown so many good coaching jobs in the NFL and the NCAA but still seems to get five and six chances to make a first impression.

What is the deal with that?

Let’s call a spade a spade.

Often, predominantly White colleges have alumni and students who do not believe Black coaches can do the job.

Furthermore, the good ole boy network in the NFL probably does not have much room for powerful African-American boys with a voice.

Just look what happened to Colin Kaepernick for speaking out against systemic racism and police brutality.

The old guard is hell bent on maintaining the status quo even if that has a negative effect on the status of their product on the field.

No one wants to see someone lose their livelihood, but why do White football coaches seem to have nine lives while many can’t wait to pull the cord on Black coaches before they even get placed on life support?

The same rules should apply for coaches of all colors.

It does not matter what the alumni says.

It does not matter what the fan base says.

Right is right.

Wrong is wrong.

Equality means the same.

Unfortunately, equality is something that Black coaches, and Black people in general, have never gotten to enjoy since their arrival in America in 1619.

Despite the unfairness of the football coaching profession, would like to champion the return of several Black football coaches to the sidelines in the NFL and the college ranks as head coaches.

Marvin Lewis—Former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looked more impressive every week of the 2019 season because his old team had a hard time winning without him. The knock on Lewis was that he could not produce in the playoffs with the Bengals. But the team hardly won without him during the regular season. They had the worst record in the league this season.

Jim Caldwell—Jim Caldwell has produced solidly as an NFL head coach over the years. He has an overall record of 62-50, amassing a 36-28 record while coaching the Detroit Lions over four seasons. As the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Caldwell went 26-22, winning the AFC championship in 2009 before losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl.

Sylvester Croom—Numbers do not lie. However, numbers do not always tell the entire story and context. Sylvester Croom went 21-38 as a head coach on the college level. But breaking barriers in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) as the first African-American head football coach should be viewed as an extra 100 wins. The former Mississippi State coach has coached as an assistant in the NFL since he left Starkville, Miss. But it would be great to see him lead a major college team once again. Hopefully, he will consider coming out of retirement.

Willie Taggart—Honestly, Willie Taggart did not produce enough to stay at a blueblood college program like Florida State. He should have never left Oregon, especially the way he left after only one season. But Florida State was his dream job. Unfortunately dreams can turn into nightmares if it is not meant to be. However, the brother definitely deserves to coach on the highest level again because he can get it done under the right circumstances. Taggart went 9-12 in less than two full seasons with the Seminoles. He has a 56-62 all-time college head coaching record.

Hue Jackson—The disaster known as the Cleveland Browns proved that Hue Jackson did not deserve the blame in 2018. This season, the Browns were a sexy pick to make it to the Super Bowl with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the squad. Furthermore, Mayfield liked the new head coach Freddie Kitchens, who had vaulted to the head-coaching job straight from a quarterbacks coach. Kitchens and the Browns suffered through a subpar 6-10 record in 2019. Honestly, Jackson struggled as a head coach in Cleveland too. But all coaches suffer in Cleveland. His 8-8 record as head coach of the Oakland Raiders for one year, shows he can get the job done in the league if given enough time to prosper.

Steve Wilks—As Michael Wilbon would say on “Pardon the Interruption,” Steve Wilks got hosed by losing his job after one season as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Sure, he suffered through a 3-13 season. But one season is not enough time to implement a system and perfect that system. His replacement, Kliff Kingsbury, had very little success in college, but his system fit the Cardinals’ young quarterback, Kyler Murray. Despite having a Heisman Trophy winner under center, Kingsbury did not fair significantly better than Wilks, going 5—10-1 in his first season in the desert.


Leslie Frazier—Leslie Frazier’s tenure as Minnesota Vikings head coach fits the description of up and down. However, any coach that can go 10-6 in an NFL season can definitely coach on the highest level. But Frazier’s Achilles heel was that every other year was a losing season during his four years in Minneapolis.  But if White coaches can go through growing pains before reaching pay dirt, the same luxury should be afforded to their African-American counterparts.

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