Updated: January 21, 2016


By:- Gary Norris Gray-BASN- Staff Reporter

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OAKLAND, CA.- The National Football League-a.k.a-No Fun League is doing it again. The Rooney Rule failed this year and has failed the last five years. The Rule requires each team to interview at least one minority candidate for the head coaching position. The teams are following this rule but they have a pre-planned agenda hiring their coach before the interviews begin.

This past three weeks teams have fired and hired new head coaches for the 2016 season. There are questions that this league and its commissioner Roger Goodell must answer. There are questions that team owners and general managers have to answer.

The good old boys network went into full gear at the end of the 2016 season.

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Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan made a call to his brother in New Orleans where he was the defensive coach. Bob Ryan answered the call and moved to northwest New York to become the Buffalo Bills Defensive Assistant Head Coach. WITHOUT AN INTERVIEW – Bob Ryan was guaranteed a job. This does not happen to African American football coaches in the pros or in college.

Back in the day (1970-80) running backs coach of the Chicago Bears Johnny Roland never had a chance neither did offensive coordinators Jimmy Raye of the Los Angeles Rams, Billie Matthews of the Indianapolis Colts, and my hero from the Black and Silver-Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders, Willie Brown, defensive backs coach. These four men could have been great head coaches, these four men had years of football knowledge, however the Rooney Rule was not in place.  The owners and general managers never gave these four men that interview.

Rebel owner Al Davis and the Los Angeles Raiders would correct that by hiring Art Shell to be the first African American head coach in 1989.


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On the 87th birthday weekend of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. the NFL cannot control their organization. They lack of effort hiring minority head coaches, not giving them a fair shot at the new head coaching positions. This year there were seven openings; six of seven positions were filed with white offensive coordinators.

The Dream of Dr. King and his children being judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin has not reached the National Football League.

It also is a problem at the quarterback position but that’s another story for another time.

In 2015-16 there are currently five African American head coaches and that number has not changed for five years. Once again the league traded African American head coaches Hue Jackson for Lovie Smith to keep the number stable at five.

QUESTION– Is there an unwritten-silent quota system in place? The old boy network worked overtime in 2016.

QUESTION – Why is there only one African American coach in the NFC? Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions and if the grey and sky blue cats don’t start the 2016 season well, Caldwell could be getting his walking papers mid-season. The Lions stink and the main reason is the inconsistent quarterback Matthew Stafford (NOBODY SAYS A WORD). But please don’t tell the Detroit Lion administration about that. Jim Caldwell rebuilt the Lion defense and thus no opponent wants to play in Ford Field. The opposition may win the game but they will lose the linebackers war.

QUESTION- Why are there three African American head coaches in the same division, the AFC North? Maybe so they knock each other off and tire each other out before the playoffs? Look on the bright side, at least one of them could make the playoffs if Mr. John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens miss.

QUESTION- Are the teams following The 2002 Rooney Rule? If it were not for this rule teams would have missed interviewing Hue Jackson-Oakland Raiders or Mike Tomlin-Pittsburgh Steelers because both were unknown coordinators.

If you are African American and want to be a head coach you only get two chances at the bite of the head coaching apple; after that ….. Lovie Smith will be the next example after coaching the NFC Champion Bears and the Tampa Bay Bucs. Don’t expect him to get another job if this trend continues.

African American coaches clean up the messes that are put before them and succeed. Head coach Mike Singletary cleaned up the mess in San Francisco as the Niners moved from doormats in the NFC West to the playoffs with Singletary’s replacement, Jim Harbaugh. Mr. Harbaugh took this rag-tag team to the Super Bowl in two years.


“It was created as a reaction to the 2002 firings of head coaches Tony Dungy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Green of the Minnesota Vikings, at a time when Dungy had a winning record and Green had just had his first losing season in ten years. Shortly afterwards, U.S. civil rights attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran released a study showing that black head coaches, despite winning a higher percentage of games, were less likely to be hired and more likely to be fired than their white counterparts. Former NFL players Kellen Winslow and John Wooten then put together a self-described “affinity group” of minority scouts, coaches, and front-office personnel, to advocate for the rule’s creation.

It is still a work in progress in 2016.

Before the Rooney Rule there were very few African American head coaches. The first was Fritz Pollard of the Akron Pros and the Hammond Pros. Pollard was the only Black head coach until 1979.

The door opened for Art Shell- Los Angeles Raiders, Tom Flores, the first Latin, Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders-Seattle Seahawks, Dennis Green- Minnesota Vikings-Arizona Cardinals, Ray Rhodes -Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers, Tony Dungy-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Indianapolis Colts, and Herman Edwards-New York Jets- Kansas City Chiefs. All of these coaches kept their teams competitive. In fact all of these men took their teams to the playoffs and two won the Super Bowl. These six men were the road warriors for the other minority coaches to follow.




The first Rooney Rule hired coach was Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003. Lewis is still coaching in the Queen City guiding the Bengal Tigers to the playoffs the last five years.

The Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers set the tone sidestepping the Rooney Rule and installing the coaches they wanted without compliance.

In 2003, the NFL fined the Detroit Lions $200,000 for failure to interview African-American candidates for the team’s vacant head coaching job. After Marty Mornhinweg was fired, the Lions immediately hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci to replace him without interviewing any other candidates. The Lions claimed they attempted to interview other candidates but that the African-American candidates withdrew from interviews, believing Mariucci’s hiring was inevitable.


Hue Jackson- Cleveland Browns

Mike Tomlin- Pittsburgh Steelers

Marvin Lewis- Cincinnati Bengals

Jim Caldwell- Detroit Lions

Todd Bowles- New York Jets


In one of the most underhanded moves of the year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dirk Koetter as the offensive coordinator for the 2015 season with plans to relieve Lovie Smith at the end of the season. Koetter worked with the Bucs offensive line with two rookie linemen and cut sacks in half. He also worked with quarterback Winston on his ball releases. Jameis had a habit of throwing the football with a baseball motion creating a downward spiral on the football instead of the high loop motion. Koetter fixed that.

The General manager and owner had a cursory interview with one of their minority assistant coaches to comply with the Rooney Rule, which leaves the question, why bother?

The Buccaneer administration should have been honest with Mr. Smith instead of stabbing him in the back.

QUESTION:- Would the Tampa Bay administration treat a white head coach in this manner? We all know that answer. The Bucs organization fired Smith via phone.

Lovie Smith guided the future rookie of the year, quarterback Jameis Winston to a fruitful season winning six games. Not many first year quarterbacks win games. Jameis Winston grew in the leadership role taking command of the team under the guidance of an older Black man, Lovie Smith.

Next year if Jameis Winston regresses at the quarterback position, The Buccaneers will have made another bad decision which has been their M.O. in their short historical past.


Mike Mularkey- Tennessee Titans – This is another reason why the ROONEY RULE does not work. This man should not be coaching any team. Mike Mullarkey has been given the head coaching job for the Titans, despite a career record of 18-39 as a head coach for three teams, with losing records in three of four seasons.   He coached the Buffalo Bills in 2004-05, posting 9-7 and 5-11 records, 14-18 combined, a losing record, before being fired and recycling back through the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons in subordinate jobs.  The Jacksonville Jaguars gave him another shot at head coach in 2012; he delivered a 2-14 record, making his career record worse at 16-32, before joining the Tennessee Titans as tight ends coach under Ken Whisenhunt.

Whisenhunt had not been the answer for the Titans; in his first year his record was 2-14, tied for worse in the NFL, and worse than the previous season of 7-9 compiled under the man who he replaced, Mike Munchak.   On November 3, 2015, after starting the season 1–6, the Titans fired Whisenhunt, and named Mullarkey the interim head coach. Mullarkey did not bring much of a change; the Titans were 2-7 after he took over for Whisenhunt.  Nevertheless, the Titans rewarded him with the head coach position.  Reasons were said to be stability (with losing?), familiarity (with losing?), and price (cheap).

The Titans have never recovered from the Jeff Fisher days and the fans are still paying for it.


Doug Pederson-Philadelphia Eagles- This is one of the worst hirings of the 2016 season and I’m not the only one saying this. Don’t want to give ESPN credit but they have the same thoughts. This team is in a confused state of mind. The Eagles gave the keys to the car to Chip Kelly last year and he drove the car straight into an oak tree. Kelly traded 40% of the Eagle offense and his college experiment failed. The Philadelphia organization could not be more excited because Kelly relieved the Eagles of $12.5 million dollars of contracts and free agents The Philadelphia Eagles win the Salary Cap Super Bowl AGAIN!!!!

So now the Eagles organization wants to return to the Andy Reid coaching system. Return to the days when the head coach could be seen as fan friendly, Kelly was not it. The Philadelphia administration made phone calls to Kansas City and Mr. Reid. Reid suggested Mr. Pederson for the job as a man that could fill the head coaching needs of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Green Birds skated The Rooney Rule by interviewing African American and fellow Eagle Duce Staley running backs coach for one hour.

Pederson might stabilize the franchise but he is very young and very green and has to learn the ropes on the fly in the upcoming season.

The first thing he needs to do is release wide receiver Riley Cooper. That would be a positive step forward.


Ben McAdoo- New York Giants- This was the best move of the seven new coaches. McAdoo understands quarterback Eli Manning and could motivate the Big Blue offense to produce points. McAdoo will continue the Tom Coughlin program so the transition will be smooth. The Giants might want to release defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who did not have a very good year because the defense give up too many big plays at critical times. Head coach McAdoo and the Giants also have to solve the injury issue.

Adam Gase- Miami Dolphins- Another unknown offensive coordinator who worked with the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears, both of these teams still cannot score. So the question, why the Miami administration hired Gase. The Dolphins are near the bottom of the league in offense with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. SO WHAT WILL CHANGE IN SOUTH BEACH?


Chip Kelly– San Francisco 49ers Kelly comes from the Philadelphia Eagles with baggage or shall we say a very big elephant. All I can say is Niner Fans beware. Back up the truck because Wednesday morning January 20th all of the Niner coaching staff except one were dismissed. The Kelly Parade has already started. Look out strong- willed and opinionated, African American players you are next.

Now think what would occur if an African American head coach acted like this. HE WOULD NOT HAVE A JOB.


Hue Jackson- Cleveland Browns- The only African American hire in 2016. Jackson was the ROONEY RULE interview for the San Francisco 49ers. The West Coast organization made a circus of this rule for the second time. Jackson left “The City By The Bay” very disappointed by the conduct of the Niner organization.

It is time to inform the National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell that it is not o.k. to have 65-70% African Americans on the playing field and not in the decision making positions.

Black participation is lacking at the higher ranks of this sports industry. The general managers position currently has only six African Americans. This number has not changed in at least ten years.

Baltimore Raven Ozzie Newsome

Buffalo Bill Doug Whaley

Detroit Lion Martin Mayhew

Houston Texan Rick Smith

The New York Football Giant Jerry Reese

 Oakland Raider Reggie McKenzie

The league refuses to rise above the number five at the head coaches position.

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Then there is the Black quarterback question with Field General Russell Wilson-Seattle, Field General Cam Newton-Carolina, and new Field General Teddy Bridgewater-Minnesota. Two other soldiers are moving up the ranks and will earn their stars soon, Majors Jameis Winston Tampa Bay and Tyrod Taylor-Buffalo will win soon if they are given time.

Again the magic number is FIVE; one weekend two years ago it reached a high of ten. That weekend those ten Black quarterbacks had a record of 7-1 with two no-decisions because of injuries. IT MIGHT HAPPEN AGAIN SOON with the new recruits coming out of college in 2016!!!

The last glaring and troubling issue is the lack of African American ownership with only the Williams Sisters part owners of the Miami Dolphins. That is one out of thirty.

African American owners and General Managers would most likely hire more African American head coaches and the numbers would raise significantly. American Sports radio will never discuss this problem over the airwaves because it would open up the discussion on why it has taken so long.

If all else fails it might be time for African American football fans to picket and boycott a team or an organization that refuses to interview or hire a minority coaches, general managers, or owners. It may be time to refuse to buy team shirts, uniforms, and other team (gear) items.

America is Cruising for a Bruising by not being honest or true to minority football fans.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Disabled Community Activist. Email at

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod


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