Fritz Pollard Alliance slams NFL hiring practices

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There was a time when some thought the Fritz Pollard Alliance failed to show sufficient zeal regarding the league’s hiring practices. Those days definitely have ended.

Now led by former NFL G.M. and league executive Rod Graves, who last week called the situation “shameful,” the group issued a strong and clear statement on Monday attacking the absence of minority coaches and General Managers.

“We were painfully reminded through this past hiring cycle that attaining diverse leadership in the NFL can only happen through the willful actions of the team owners and decision makers,” the statement begins. “True devotion to diversity starts with a recognition of the profound good that it can bring to the Game. It embraces a belief that the benefactors who contribute to the business of football should also share in the benefits. It embraces a core belief that the Game should be accessible at every level for those that possess the skills and who have the resources to meet their aspirations.

“The abysmal record of hiring people of color in high ranking levels of NFL management is a reminder of the dark periods of civil rights history. In 100 years of professional football, the NFL has moved from Fritz Pollard as its first African-American Head Coach in 1921 to four Head Coaches of color in 2020. The League has only one African-American General Manager. There are no African-American club presidents.”

The statement points out that, while players of color make up 70.1 percent of the league’s rosters and that nearly a third of all assistant coaches are minorities, a dramatically lower percentage of minorities are employed as coaches, General Managers, and team presidents.

“These statistics bear out the glass ceiling faced by coaches and front office executives of color as they try to move up the ladder,” the statement asserts.

“We are in a battle for social justice,” the Fritz Pollard Alliance says in its statement. “The current system of hiring and promoting talent into the upper levels of NFL management is a flawed system. We cannot expect fairness if business remains status quo. Our focus must shift from counting emblematic victories each year to calling for measurable initiatives that support sustainable progress.

“We believe that Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to be on the side of progress. We recognize there are NFL teams that embrace diversity of leadership as good for the Game.

“The Fritz Pollard Alliance is calling on the National Football League, Owners and Club leaders to develop specific diversity action plans to improve diversity in all aspects of management. Our goal is to inspire better results and to work with all NFL stakeholders to come up with meaningful solutions.”

By far, it’s the strongest statement made by the Fritz Pollard Alliance in the generation since the Rooney Rule was promulgated. Whether it sparks change depends on how the NFL reacts to it. How the NFL reacts to it depends in large part on how fans and media react to it.

77 responses to “Fritz Pollard Alliance slams NFL hiring practices

  1. Okay. Brian Flores somehow got a job and he’s been doing fine. Maybe it’s the best candidate available like for any other job? Don’t tell Screaming A Smith that though.

  2. How are Matt Patricia and Joe Judge superior to Jim Caldwall and that OC for KC? I’m no SJW but something doesn’t smell right about this years hirings when there are so many more qualified candidates of color.

  3. I agree with the article, the league shows a colossal lack of diversity. They are looking a level low as well, team ownership. When the billionare’s boys club has had more minorities enter it’s ranks, then things will change.

  4. Quota’s don’t work. If you’re qualified you will be hired. There’s a reason we don’t have quota’s when it comes to our rosters…

  5. Teams are always gonna hire the guy they feel is the best available, regardless of color. Ron Rivera surely had other teams reach out to him before agreeing to the Redskins job.

    But I will admit, I am flabbergasted by Matt Rhule’s popularity as a candidate.

  6. Duce Staley started with the Eagles as coaching intern in 2010. He was named asst head coach in 2019. Maybe Eric Bieniemy is just a horrible interviewer.

  7. dickshotdogs says:
    January 13, 2020 at 6:52 pm
    You’re either qualified, or you’re not.


    Freddie Kitchens agrees.

  8. When will the Fritz Pollard alliance demand “diversity” by forcing NFL teams to draft WHITE cornerbacks.
    Until that happens, I have no respect for the Fritz Pollard alliance.
    Diversity cannot be allowed to benefit only one race.

  9. Matt Patricia and joe judge aren’t better than Jim Caldwell.
    People Just keep hiring patriots coaches just cause of Brady/BB success. Not
    Because they’re better.

    But we all know what Jim Caldwell is. An average coach. He’ll get you some wins but won’t make it far in the playoff. He’s proved that In Indy and Detroit
    So if you want a coach to get you further then don’t hire him. Has nothing to do
    With his skin color

  10. Develop specific diversity action plans. Any thoughts on what those would be? Besides forced hirings of people of color. Seminars educating the hiring classes of the wonders of diversity will not work. Why? because they hire who they want and will continue to do so unless forced to make changes or be changed out for someone who will. They don’t need to educated about diversity, not in 2020.They know it, they just don’t want to.

  11. Eric Bieniemy and Robert Saleh will have HC jobs before too long. Really their teams success is what held them back in this years hiring cycle. Hiring freeze until after the full season has ended might be the best bet. Perfect? No. But it helps lessen the penalty assistance coaches on good teams suffer during the hiring process. Making any changes based exclusively on one’s race will not likely move the ball forward. It will just be a loop hole waiting to be invented.

  12. Back in the early 2000s Jeff BlaKe was asked if there was racial biase in the NFL. The question was targeting there being so few QBs in football. His response was great. To paraphrase, he said absolutely there was. But not only did he discuss black QBs being moved to corner or wr he also discussed how many white RBs are told to bulk up and move to linebacker or fullback. Most of those biasedness comes in at the college, not NFL level.
    Talent is transcendent. But when it’s not, biase does play a part.
    Personally, they need to have a coaching development program in the NFL and then hire best person. Regardless of skin color. Except for the Browns, they can hire whoever.

  13. If I own a team, I’m going to hire the person of my choice . No matter the color or race of anyone. I’m hiring the person I think is the best for my team. Not Fritz pollard.

  14. 128 FBS schools, only 12 black head coaches.

    I agree that there is a disproportionate amount of coaches of color in the NFL. But this is a larger problem than just the NFL. Much like players, the college ranks also feed coaches into the NFL. If the coaches aren’t there in the lower ranks, than how can they be groomed for the NFL?

    But to play devil’s advocate, is Joe Judge or Matt Rhule really a better head coach bchoice than Eric Bieniemy?

  15. Mediocre at best white coaches who constantly fail but consistently get jobs is the norm. Then you have new comers with no true track record or true qualifications other than the skin they’re in and who they know. Black candidates…it always comes down to the excuse of qualifications, even when their resume is better than their white counterpart. They just don’t check that box of comfort level skin complexion. But keep on pushing the experience and success qualification narrative to justify the original sin and practice of America. Sleep tight , good night and pleasant dreams.

  16. Haslam hired 1-31 Hue Jackson and he arrived at the facility with a standing ovation staff crowd. Today, Kevin Stefanski arrived and one guy greeted him at the door.

  17. I’m so sick of this debate. You hire who you think will win you the most games. Obviously the popular thing to do the last couple of years is to hire people close to McVay. If we simply made McVay and Belichick hire only minorities, 50% of the coaches would be minorities by now.

  18. If I own a company, i am going to hire who i want.
    Maybe the Fritz Pollard Alliance should buy a team, then they can fill every single position with minorities if they want

  19. Here is the deal…..if I am the owner spending my money I plan to hire whomever I want for whatever reasons I want. Sorry, if the people in this “alliance” don’t like it, let them purchase and run their own team

  20. Ultimately it is the NFL’s fault. They should establish national coaching college that is in the off-season and teaches all men that are interested the key leadership skills, as well as other aspects of the game that are deemed necessary to have a coach succeed in the National Football League. Then, over time the best leaders will be hired as head coaches and the quality of the coaching in the NFL should improve.

  21. Diversified coaches and upper management? Cool. Let’s diversify the players then as well.

  22. How are Matt Patricia and Joe Judge superior to Jim Caldwall and that OC for KC? I’m no SJW but something doesn’t smell right about this years hirings when there are so many more qualified candidates of color.
    Obviously you don’t know that Bieniemy isn’t a people guy and he’s rubbed plenty of people the wrong way.
    This guy Joe Judge is apparently a rare breed and a great leader.
    Not everything has to do with race. Fight the liberal temptation to blame everything wrong in the world on race…

  23. Has anyone looked into the percentage of minority’s working on the staff of current minority head coaches ….

  24. There is too much rehiring of retreads who aren’t that good, and too much nepotism.
    Minority candidates rarely get hired so they are more willing to take crappy jobs with terrible franchises (Cleveland, Todd Bowles with the Jets).
    Given that most HCs come from NFL coaches, and many of them have played at the pro-level, there should be more minority position coaches.

    It should be trivial to comply with the Rooney rule, and yet still many teams don’t.

  25. People are using timing as part of the reason why some of these better, minority coaches are not getting a shot. Maybe that’s the case that they can’t afford to wait until more successful teams with more successful coaches are done their playoff runs. Peter King, who I don’t agree with often, offers a good solution. No hiring anyone prior to the day after the SB. Make it a level playing field. I don’t know if this is as big of a problem as some GMs are suggesting but I also don’t understand how Judge or Rhule are better candidates than Eric Bieniemy. Maybe it’s just me.

  26. Just pass a rule that one third of the coaches have to be black and two thirds of the players must be white. There, problem solved. The NFL will look like the general population.

  27. Martin Mayhew was GM of the Lions when Caldwell was hired. Both are minority. Caldwell was not Mayhew’s first choice, Ken wisenhunt was Mayhews first choice (a white guy) but he chose not to accept the job in Detroit and he took the Tennessee Titans job instead So Mayhew went with his second option. Caldwell did better in Detroit than Wisenhunt did in Tenn. Point being a minority GM wasn’t 100% sold on a minority coach. Skin color has nothing to do with getting a high level job or not, it’s qualification based.

  28. It is a meritocracy. Maybe the candidates interviewed better. No one is asking why there aren’t more white players. Should we force that one down everyone’s throats.

    Oh and those that ask about Jim Caldwell, have you ever seen the teams he coaches? Gee, I wonder why he’s unemployed. Maybe we should hire Hue Jackson because he’s black. Doesn’t matter that his record is 3-36-1. All that matters is the colour of your skin right?

  29. So tired of this crap every year. Someone doesn’t get a job, must be because he’s black. How insulting to the people who interviewed him. Perhaps people get skipped over because they fail to impress or are bad interviews. Is the FPA seriously suggesting that owners are passing on good candidates only because they’re black? That’s ridiculous.

  30. It’s all about your QB in the NFL not the Head Coach. LaFleur would be a dumpster fire without Discount Double Check. Fitzpatrick made Bowles look like a top flight Head Coach in his first year, sadly Fritztragic showed up in Year 2.

  31. How many minority coaches is enough? half (equality)? 17(no longer a minority)? All 32? Should the Asian/Native American communities be outraged?

  32. Just lol @ people saying that Coach A is more qualified than Coach B…

    The hiring organization makes the determination of who the best qualified candidate is for the position and not random people on the Internet!

  33. So I know I fall on the “wrong” side of this with posters who are all about “this is just people trying to be social justice warriors.” No it is not. This is about a well-defined history of discrimination in the sport. Took a little long for minorities who apparently can play in money positions but couldn’t be QB. And for minorities to move into management or HCs. That really is a problem.

    But I have a problem with the rule. First we have had, and still have, minority coaches. We do have many – less now I believe but that is a cycle – minorities in management. So at some point you have to ask whether time has bypassed the reality of where we are today?

  34. NFL may as well stand for Nepotism For Life, since that’s the real culprit for perpetuating racial disparities in coaching and the front office. How many coaches today were sons of coaches or GMs? How did they get their break? Obviously some are very talented and deserving (Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay), but many others are not (Jay Gruden, Jim Mora, and the countless number of assistant coaching sons who are on their dad’s staff despite having limited credentials to be NFL coaches like Nate Carrol and Steve Belichick). The truth is a lot of teams are run like a family business. Until that changes nothing will change significantly.

  35. We’re not saying we want a quota. We just demand that X number of black coaches get hired every single year.

  36. There is no evidence WHATSOEVER to make the claim that diversity for the sake of diversity makes the league or the game better. People need to get over themselves and stop whining about it because there are literally a million things more important to focus on in life than the skin color of coaches being made HCs in the NFL.

  37. This is the dumbest non-story out there about the NFL right now.

    Seriously. Nobody cares about the Rooney Rule or Fritz Pollard. The statement was made a long time ago, and now the NFL considers the best candidates for the job, race is no longer a factor.

  38. Apparerently, ‘people of color’ have to dominate everything or people aren’t happy. There are more minority QB’s (highest paid position in football) than there has ever been, most WR’s and RB’s are ‘people of color’, many assistants (Leftwich, Bienemy, salah, etc), three NFL head coaches (Tomlin, Rivera, and Lynn, and more past head coaches (Dungy, Flores, Joseph, Green, Shell, etc). That’s not to mention the NFL and NFLPA employees like Troy Vincent, Merton Hanks, Gene Upshaw, etc. I think minorities are very well represented. This is ridiculous babble.

  39. Why is the Fritz Pollard Alliance beating around the bush? Just come out and say what you want, affirmative action for NFL upper management and coaching. How many do you want? What % will make you happy?

    Affirmative action doesn’t work and it won’t work in the NFL. Nobody should be hired because of their skin, white, black, or brown!

  40. 70% of the athletes that people come to watch are AA. 30% of the assistants on teams are AA. Owners need to win, that is the bottom line. Race does not determine talent, there are thousands of young white kids out there trying to make a NFL roster that are turned away because they just aren’t as good as the person who beat them out. Its 2020, why is this even an issue? Give these young AA assistant time to grow, show what they can command, and they will be looking at promotions just like the next guy. You have guys like Robert Saleh who will be a hot commodity very soon coaching the 49ers defense, he is an Arabic American, and is doing damn well. You have Brian Flores, George Edwards, Duce Staley (asst head coach), Eric Bieniemy, Karl Dunbar, Ray Sherman… all knocking at that door – why? – because their teams are winning and/or doing well. Winning is all that matters. They will have their opportunity, they are next in line. Do you really think teams would pass on an opportunity to fill a vacancy with a Mike Tomlin? How about a young Herm Edwards or Tony Dungy? You have guys like James Franklin in Penn State and David Shaw of Stanford turning heads… There are AA coaches being groomed and learning… this topic is just flat out ridiculous. How about reaching out to some of these all time greats like Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, ask them why they aren’t trying to coach in the NFL, Hell, give Terrell Owens a job as the strength and conditioning coach and he will have his guys doing sit up in their parking lot before they even get to the practice field! Heres one more nugget – the Eagles 2017 season.. you dont think Brian Dawkins had something to do with that? This guy would be climbing up that latter if it was something he desired. / done.

  41. The Cardinals hired Steve Wilks, a minority with only one year of coordinator experience and no head coaching experience at any level. Obviously, he flopped. What does the Fritz Pollard Alliance think about that?

  42. The Fritz Pollard Alliance should pick a week next season and call for a boycott to not watch or attend NFL games to bring awareness to this plight.

    Maybe Week 7, for Colin Kaepernick.

  43. How would you like to be a white HC just getting his first gig at the top level, You’re all excited and your family is so proud, then have to listen to people complain because a black guy didn’t get your job? And just as bad is the fact that their families have to hear it as well. This is just wrong on so many levels.

  44. Some of you people wear your bigotry like a badge of honor. Stop hiding behind platitudes like “the best qualified” or “the most talented” person should be hired. We all know you believe that no African-American person meets that standard.

    And the people mentioning a woman coach or executive are similarly disingenuous. Again, we all know that you are misogynistic regarding any opportunities for women. You would never support a woman for any position of importance.

    Fortunately, the bigots and misogynists remain in the minority. In the future they will be relegated to the ash heap of history.

  45. cowboyswillrise says:
    January 13, 2020 at 6:49 pm
    How are Matt Patricia and Joe Judge superior to Jim Caldwall and that OC for KC? I’m no SJW but something doesn’t smell right about this years hirings when there are so many more qualified candidates of color.
    You undermine your own argument about there being so many more qualified candidates of color when you couldn’t name any including the OC for KC who is Eric Bieniemy .

  46. Sometimes common sense needs to prevail though. I remember when the Lions had a chance at the biggest hottest coaching candidate years back (Steve Mariucci) and they were criticised for the lack of a minority interview. But most teams would have jumped to sign Mariucci as back then

    Or the Raiders who just a few years back signed Gruden, ridiculous they had to just interview a minority coach. Look at their history, first hispanic coach, first black coach and Amy Trask in a high position of power.

    The Rooney Rule means well but sometimes its ridiculous specially in the Gruden hire

  47. There are some people who will never acknowledge the effect of centuries old systemic racism. Whether those people are frightened by minorities allegedly taking their opportunities, or were indoctrinated to despise those who do not look like them from an early age, or are simply ignorant, they are consumed by their hatred.

  48. There should be more black coaches. When you look at the guys the Browns and Giants hired, there are more qualified candidates. It’s the Kaeprnick effect. He makes all colored people look like they can’t lead. Another thing there is less patience with black guys than white. Arizona fired coach after 1 year. They could been little more patient.

  49. The biggest complaint with half the teams in the league is their coaches are under-qualified for the job and they go through coaches as often as some people change clothes.

    The idea that the best candidates are being hired by the teams always looking for coaches has no legs when Pat Shurmur has been allowed to fail upwards twice, Freddie Kitchens can just wake up and get handed a head coaching job with 8 games of experience and what number are we on this century with Washington? Meanwhile some assistants can’t get past the interview phase who have been around forever and even have Super Bowl rings as coordinators.

    Fact is GM’s and owners hire people with connections to them. Has nothing to do with qualifications especially for head coach. The aforementioned Pat Shurmur got his first head coaching job because Mike Holmgren who was running the Browns at the time was close with his uncle and they even fired a way more qualified coach to open up the job for him to have.
    In other words half the teams in the league aren’t even getting the most qualified white candidate but you want to convince someone that they’re even trying in their searches and lack of qualifications is why certain people aren’t getting hired?

    All the FPA is asking is can under qualified minorities be nepotizm hired and fail multiple times and still be considered good candidates like non minority coaches have been doing in the NFL for decades. I’m sure there’s plenty of minorities who can crap out on multiple teams like Chip Kelly or be mediocre to super average like Jeff Fisher. They just need a chance.

  50. “Committment to winning > Committment to diversity. Problem?”

    So your logic is that a minority coach is not only incapable of winning, but also incapable of having a commitment to winning. That is a very telling position to take.

  51. If I was a minority and I knew I only got the job because of my skin color and more qualified coaches didn’t get hired on the account of the job being forced to me…I wouldn’t want the job. I don’t think owners care about color, must just want to win no matter what. Fritz Pollard is the racist thing here not owners.

  52. ask the cards how wilks and j joseph worked for them?s ask how rod graves worked how he worked as gm?

  53. This is the same, old tired argument that actually HURTS minorities in the long run as opposed to helps them in the professional world.

    There are plenty of things owners look for in head coaches that are NOT X’s and O’s related. Can they lead a team of men? Does their coaching philosophy mesh with the personnel department philosophy of player acquisition and development? Does their coaching philosophy mesh with the players already on the roster? Who does he plan to hire as assistants? Is his background clean?

    I have no idea why Eric Bieniemy hasnt been hired as a head coach yet. Maybe he’s a terrible interviewer. Maybe he fails in interviews to show what his plans are with regards to leading a team, from coaching philosophy to roster building. Maybe he’s just plain unlucky and runs into coaching searches where other candidates just blow it away in their interviews. Maybe his background at Colorado as a player (which is sketchy) hurts him. Maybe to be a head coach he’ll have to drop to the college ranks, prove his mettle, and then NFL teams will have a better understanding on the type of head coach he will be.

    There have been plenty of white coaches who have had to wait their turns as well. Mike Zimmer waited nearly two decades despite being an accomplished coordinator. Ditto for Vic Fangio. And I dont see anyone complain when white coaches are canned after one or two years on the job and not really given the opportunity to build a team over a long period of time.

    There are some coaches where coordinators are their ceilings. And that’s not a bad thing, you know. They’re still making seven figures. They are still prominent in their team’s results. But the NFL is too cut-throat of a business where skin color precedes winning. There’s too much money at stake. This idea that black coaches are being passed over because of just skin color is absurd.

  54. cardinealsfan20 says:
    January 14, 2020 at 9:34 am
    “Committment to winning > Committment to diversity. Problem?”

    So your logic is that a minority coach is not only incapable of winning, but also incapable of having a commitment to winning. That is a very telling position to take.

    Nope. My position is that the coach who the owner thinks gives him the best chance at winning should get the job. No matter what he or she looks like.

  55. As long as we refer to ‘the best black candidate’ or the ‘best white candidate’ this will never end. Check out an interview on 60 minutes between Mike Wallace and Morgan Freeman from 2005, here is a quote…”Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?

    Is there a process on draft day where teams or coaches have to draft certain numbers of ‘white’, ‘black’, or ‘hispanic ‘players? No there is not. They draft who they think will be the best man for the job.

  56. Eric Bieniemy and Robert Saleh will have HC jobs before too long. Really their teams success is what held them back in this years hiring cycle. Hiring freeze until after the full season has ended might be the best bet.

    Agree with that. You shouldn’t even be able to conduct interviews until 1 week after the Super Bowl.

  57. “Duce Staley started with the Eagles as coaching intern in 2010. He was named asst head coach in 2019. Maybe Eric Bieniemy is just a horrible interviewer.”

    Bieniemy keeps getting trotted out as an example of what is wrong but he is a TERRIBLE example. First off, this is only his second year as a coordinator so really this is the very first time he’s even been a serious candidate for a head coaching job. Secondly, he is an OC who doesn’t actually call the plays which is bound to be viewed with skepticism by some teams. (The only time he was an OC and actually DID call plays was a couple years in the college ranks and the team was absolutely horrible so that certainly wasn’t a great selling point for him.)

  58. Being hired should be seen for what it is – an opportunity to prove yourself.

    That is how most of us view it when we we have been hired because of our experience and hard work, not because we belong to some rich club where they all take care of each other.

    We take pride in ourselves for earning the chance to move up and I would like to believe that everyone receive the same opportunities that the old mens club got forever.

    These jobs are opportunities to succeed and minorities deserve those opportunities as much as everyone else.

  59. How mad are they that there is only one white starting running? They shouldn’t be, if you are good enough you will play, if you aren’t, you won’t. Same for coaches.

  60. cafetero1075 says:
    January 14, 2020 at 9:00 am
    There should be more black coaches. When you look at the guys the Browns and Giants hired, there are more qualified candidates. It’s the Kaeprnick effect. He makes all colored people look like they can’t lead. Another thing there is less patience with black guys than white. Arizona fired coach after 1 year. They could been little more patient.

    The Cards were more than willing to be patient. When they had an end-of-season meeting and asked him how he planned to turn things around, he had no answer. Just like after all of the embarrassing losses when he continually threw the players under the bus. “The game plan was fine, the players just didn’t execute” was his standard line. Why would anypne keep someone who has zero accountability?

  61. Why is it always assumed that “diversity” brings “profound good” to the game, and no one ever explains how?  Has it ever occurred to The Fritz Pollard Alliance that:  (1) “Players of color make up 70.1 percent of the league’s rosters.”  What is the explanation for that?  Maybe white guys feel shut out by not even being considered for a roster spot that pays millions.  But they’re not allowed to call that racism.  (2) Percentage of black coaches in the NFL is about equivalent to percentage of blacks in the population at large.  Yet NFL is branded racist for not hiring more black coaches.  (3) Playing and coaching are two different skill sets.  (4) Could it be that black men make better players, and white men make better coaches?  Oh, I forgot, it’s only about race.

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