BASN’s 2008-09 Report Cards (Part Four)

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: January 24, 2009

Jerry Reese

Jerry Reese

CALIFORNIA — This grade for this report will be a BIG FAT F because African American coaches are not in the decision making positions. Qualified African American assistant coaches serve as assistant administrators and special unit coaches.

They have been pigeon holed into four major positions: offensive line, special teams, linebacker, and wide receivers coaches. With 32 teams in the league, this is a very poor showing.

The statistics are staggering there are only 10% Black Vice Presidents, and 16% Black General Managers, 35% coaches and coaching assistants while there are 65-70 % African American players on the field.

This past week, we celebrated the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s 80th birthday, and witnessed the ascension of Senator Barack Obama to the highest office in the land: President of the United States.

Americans can elect an African American president but we cannot hire African American head coaches on the college and professional level. Maybe the NFL would get the message and improve the hiring status of African Americans in the league.

There is something wrong with this picture.

Outstanding Assistant coaches Ted Cottrell and Greg Blanche were frozen in time to that position. We all should be asked why? What is going on in the NFL and why are they moving so slowly on the hiring of other African American coaches.

At the end of this years season, Cottrell was released by the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers hired Ron Rivera, Univ. of California at Berkeley, and Chicago Bear standout linebacker.

Head coach Norv Turner made Cottrell the fall guy after the Chargers lost three of the last four games with a lackluster defense showing in all four games. Turner should have looked at his offensive play calling that kept the defense on the field too long.

The NFL has been reluctant to hire Black general managers, managers, special assistants, owners and head coaches. However it is better than 25 years ago. Work still needs to be done.

The San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the recent innovators and experimenters, hiring new African American head coaches.

Teams are currently usurping the Rooney Rule by naming a head coach years in advance. This has its advantages and disadvantages. The Detroit Lions circumvented by the rule again and the new football commissioner did absolutely nothing, not even a reprimand.

There are minorities who are part owners but still not a single CEO/president. This has to change.

Here are the AFC coaches and administrators in 2009.

PITTSBURGH: Mike Tomlin will be taking the Steelers to their seventh Super Bowl appearance. This will be the third African American head coach to attend this prestigious game.

Among his assistants are John Mitchell as Assistant head coach Defensive line and Ray Horton Defensive line coach.

INDIANAPOLIS: The Colts replaced Super Bowl Champion Tony Dungy with his assistant, Jim Caldwell. The number of African American coaches remains at six, with two of them on the hot seat this summer if they don’t produce next year.

BALTIMORE: The Ravens have the largest contingent of African American staff. General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Vincent Newsome, Assistant Director to Personnel, Chad Alexander, Southeast Asian Scout and managing assistant James Harris.

These men guided their team to the AFC Championship game. Hue Jackson is currently the quarterback coach, Wilbert Montgomery running backs coach, and Clarence Brooks Defensive line coach

NEW ENGLAND: The Pats have three African American coaches; Ivan Fears, Running Backs, Pepper Johnson Defensive line, and Harold Nash Strength Coach.

N.Y. JETS: Prior to the hiring of Rex Ryan this past week, the Jets have Bryan Cox Assistant as defensive line, Jerome Henderson Defensive Backs, Jimmy Raye, Running Backs, Brian Smith quality control offensive coach, and Mike Jones Strength Coach.

CINCINNATI: To go along with head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have Johann Hayes as tight ends coach, and Jay Hayes Defensive coach.

CLEVELAND: The Bowns have Jim Brown as executive adviser. Mr. Brown is responsible for having African American players understand that there is life after football. Brown wanted players to prepare for their futures.

This is something the NFL fails to explain to its younger players.

HOUSTON: The Texans have Johnny Holland, as Linebackers coach, Chick Harris running backs coach, Ray Rhodes Assistant Backs coach, Perry Carter Defensive assistant, Ray Wright strength and conditioning coach, and Virgil Campbell strength coach assistant.

JACKSONVILLE: The Jaguars have Donnie Harrison, as Defensive backs coach.

TENNESSEE: The Titans have Craig Johnson as quarterbacks coach, Earnest Byner running backs coach, Fred Graves Wide receiver coach, and Marcus Robertson assistant secondary.

DENVER: The Broncos have Eugene Armstrong, as college scout.

OAKLAND: The Raiders have veteran Willie Brown as defensive backs, James Lofton wide receivers and Darren Perry, Defensive backs. Coach Willie Brown should have been the Raider head coach many years ago but he is so loyal to owner Al Davis and Brown will never request this.

SAN DIEGO: The Chargers have Charles Joiner wide receivers, and Clarence Shelmon offensive coordinator.

KANSAS CITY: On Friday, the Chiefs fired head coach Herman Edwards after going 15-34 in three seasons in Kansas City including a 2-14 mark last season.

Now for the list of the NFC coaches and administrators.

TAMPA BAY: The Buccaneers hired Raheem Harris as their head coach.

DALLAS: The Cowboys have Skip Peete as defense coach.

N.Y. GIANTS: The Giants have Jerald Ingram, as running backs coach.

PHILADELPHIA: The Eagles have Ted Williams as running back coach, Jeff Nixon Special teams coach, and Otis Smith assistant secondary coach.

WASHINGTON: The Redskins have Sherman Smith as offensive coordinator, Stump Mitchell assistant head coach / running backs, and Jerry Gray secondary coach.

CHICAGO: Along with head coach Lovie Smith, the Bears have Tim Spencer, as running backs coach, and Darrell Drake wide receivers coach.

GREEN BAY: The Packers have Winston Moss, as assistant coach linebackers, and Edgar Bennett, running backs coach.

ATLANTA: The Falcons have Emmitt Thomas, as assistant head coach, and Gerald Brown running back coach.

CAROLINA: The Panthers have Tim Lewis as secondary coach, and Sam Mills III, defensive coach.

NEW ORLEANS: The Saints have Travis Jones, as Assistant defense line coach, Curtis Johnson wide receivers coach.

ST. LOUIS: Prior to the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams have Henry Ellard as wide receivers coach, and Al Roberts, special teams coach.

SAN FRANCISCO: Along with head coach Mike Singletary, the 49ers have Al Harris, as pass rush specialist.

SEATTLE: The Seahawks have Zerick Rollings, as linebackers coach.

The Detroit Lions have General Manager Martin Mayhew who’ll have the task to turn around this fumbling franchise. With a 0-16 record in 2008, there is only one way to go and that is up.

ARIZONA: The NFC champions have Maurice Carthon as running back coach, Ron Aiken as defensive line coach, Teryl Austin as defensive back coach, and Dedric Ward as offensive quality control coach.

Also, don’t forget the GM of the Cardinals, Rod Graves. If the Cardinals win the Super Bowl that will mean that 2 black GM’s in a row will have won it: Jerry Reese of the Giants and Graves of the Cardinals.

Reese is the General Manager of the New York Football Giants. Reese has been considered the best person who has the ability to gage college player’s potential. He was the main architect of the Super Bowl Championship team of 2007.

With stars like Aaron Ross, Jay Alford, Michael Johnson Ahmad Bradshaw, Southern Illinois University alum, Brandon Jacobson at tailback. And tight end Kevin Boss who stepped in a took the place of disgruntled misfit Jeremy Shockley,

Former 49er wideout Gene Washington is Director of League Football Operations. Washington also conducts a seminar at Stanford University to help African American Students. The Black Liberation Month was his idea to empower African Americans in school.

Three years ago the Minnesota Vikings football team announced that an African American would be buying the team for $625 million. Reggie Fowler, a 49-year-old low profile Arizona businessman should have been the Vikings majority owner. This event would have made him the first African American team owner in the NFL history.

Fowler, who now serves as a part owner of the Vikings, wanted to keep this team in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. This application hinged on the Vikings depending on the team building a new stadium in the downtown area.

The two cities residents want something similar to the old Metropolitan stadium of the 50’s and 60’s. It took seventy-five percent of NFL owners to approve Fowler. The spring ownership meeting in Hawaii went well and Fowler became part owner of the Minnesota Vikings.

The NFL will have work to do. African Americans no longer want to be a part of the team negotiations; but instead they want to be one of leaders in team negotiations.

NEXT: The dysfunctional sport of baseball.