Fritz Pollard Alliance “disappointed” by failure of Eric Bieniemy to be hired

Atlanta Falcons v Kansas City Chiefs
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As the dust settles on the NFL’s hiring cycle, there are still efforts to kick up dust on the failure of Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to get one of the seven available head-coaching jobs.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who has seen both Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy vault from the position Bieniemy now holds to a head-coaching job in recent years, has said he plans to ask the decisions-makers to explain the failure to hire Bieniemy. Others who marvel at the the production of the Kansas City and witness Bieniemy’s efforts to actively coach his players have similar questions.

The current and former executive directors of the Fritz Pollard Alliance likewise are dismayed by the outcome of the 2021 hiring cycle, as it relates to Bieniemy.

Current executive director Rod Graves recently told Mark Maske of the Washington Post that Graves is “disappointed” by the failure of Bieniemy to get one of the jobs. “Eric is a damn good coach and there’s no reason why he should be excluded from our sidelines as an NFL head coach,” Graves told Maske.

Former Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director John Wooten feels the same way.

It bothered me,” Wooten told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I know how good a coach he is. I know the input he has with what Kansas City is doing. I don’t understand. It’s hurtful. It’s a hurtful thing to see.”

Graves was also disappointed by the broader results of the hiring cycle.

“Given the fact that we had seven openings, I think the expectation certainly was that we’d do better than having one Black [head] coach hired,” Graves told Maske. (Graves separately has praised the Jaguars for their efforts to comply with the Rooney Rule, despite hiring a white coach and a white General Manager.)

Nineteen years ago, the NFL adopted the Rooney Rule in response to a clear threat of litigation from Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie Cochran. Frankly, at this point, nothing short of a similar threat — or the reality of a lawsuit — will compel meaningful change.

The league likely is banking on that never happening, because football coaches simply want to coach football. Any assistant coach who decides to sue will have to assume the risk of being shunned not only for head-coaching opportunities but also for any other NFL employment.

I’m not saying that will happen. I’m saying that the person who signs off on the filing of a civil complaint alleging racially discriminatory employment practices must accept the possibility that they suddenly will be deemed to be unfit for a job with any of the NFL’s 32 teams. Few will want to potentially give up their entire career to seek justice for having an artificial lid placed on the ability to reach the highest levels of the profession.

39 responses to “Fritz Pollard Alliance “disappointed” by failure of Eric Bieniemy to be hired

  1. Am I the only one who would be embarrassed if people kept campaigning for me to get a job I couldn’t get on my own?

  2. Nobody owes Eric Bieniemy anything. He’s interviewed with how many teams 9?.. yet nobody is falling over themselves to hire him. Perhaps the problem isn’t the system but the candidate. If he actually called plays.. teams might think higher of him and hire him.

  3. Teams are less likely to hire a member of a Super Bowl team because they need to wait 2-5 additional weeks to hire him and then assemble staff. Also, head coaching is a much different job than OC, we are not in those interviews so we don’t know how Bieniemy is responding to those questions.

  4. This looks like willful ignorance of EB’s shortcomings as a leader by the FP Alliance. They are not helping their cause by making a big deal of this. Focusing good faith efforts on creating a minority coaching pipeline would be much more productive.

  5. What has EB done to warrant a HC job? Standing next to Andy Reid saying great play call coach qualifies you?

  6. let me take a wild stab at it…since nobody wants to say it out loud. Maybe because KC success on O is largely attributed to Mahome’s uncanny ability to extend plays after the original play breaks down by using top tallent like Kelcey and Hill.. and teams dont trust Belami to be able to reproduce the same success with a lesser talent at QB/ WR/ TE? It doesn’t matter if he is white, black or green.

  7. I mean, he wasn’t fired, right? He is still a coach on the sidelines is he not? This is getting a little bit ridiculous.

  8. Personally, I’ve never met Eric Bieniemy, so I don’t know how good of a coach he is or isn’t, but he’s interviewed for almost all of the head coaching vacancies and none thought he was a good fit. This article seems to imply it’s because he’s black, but maybe the teams he interviewed with felt he wasn’t ready to be a head coach or maybe he didn’t seem to be good fit. The fact the Pederson and Nagy had been hired doesn’t mean that much as Pederson has been fired and Nagy probably should get fired. If Bieniemy is as good as Reid makes him out to be he’ll land a chead oaching gig soon. Look for him to get hired by the Steelers once Big Ben retires and Tomlin gets shown the door.

  9. You’re not doing Bieniemy any favors by lumping him together with Matt Nagy. I don’t care if he’s a former coach of the year, so is the clapper

  10. Bieniemy couldn’t have been hired by this point anyway, however, any team interested in him could’ve been conducting online meetings with him during the playoffs. Teams just have this unsupportable belief that waiting until after the SB to hire a HC puts them at a disadvantage. That’s nonsense.

    I don’t believe teams always “hire the best guy for the job”, either. We see coaches fired every year. It’s a crapshoot, and it’s a vastly complex endeavor to improve an NFL franchise. The success of that endeavor depends on way more than just the HC. And winning a SB apparently won’t save you for very long.

    It’s a weird business.

    And, have you seen Sirianni’s press conference? You can’t tell me EB’s interviews were worse than THAT.

    He’ll get his shot, I’m sure, but he’s gonna be in this same spot every year as long as KC remains a good team, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. They don’t mortgage their future like the Rams and Mahomes will be great for years. So it’s not like EB is in a bad spot.

  11. You have to think that him going to the super bowl the last two years hasn’t exactly helped his case, in terms of availability, but he should be a head coach by now and it’s crazy that he is not.

  12. Maybe Bieniemy should have gotten more interviews, maybe.
    One podcast said he came across as less prepared than other candidates.
    He should get interviews, so he can improve, but that alone doesn’t mean he should get a HC job.
    A chance to improve and a fair chance = yes.
    But no promises or guarantees.

  13. He has interviewed for MANY teams. And has been passed up each time. And not by only white head coaches. There has to be a problem with the way he interviews!! There has to be a reason so many bring him in, talk to him and then run from him. And being that it is SOOOOOO many, then chances are VERY HIGH the problem is with EB!

  14. Bieniemy is also on record as saying he’s happy where he is and would only leave for a perfect opportunity.

    Soooooo maybe the issue isn’t the team owners this time.

  15. A simple internet search for Eric Bieniemy will help everyone understand why he’s not head coach material. That or maybe he just doesn’t interview well.

  16. there are plenty of African Americans looking for work without the luxury of holding a current role that pays them in the neighbourhood of $1M per year, just sayin’

  17. Skoliosis Sufferer says:
    February 3, 2021 at 12:33 pm
    I mean, he wasn’t fired, right? He is still a coach on the sidelines is he not? This is getting a little bit ridiculous.


    yep. Not going to feel sorry for or cry foul for a man who is coaching in the superbowl and earning a 7 figure salary.

  18. So if he fails miserably when a team does eventually sign him as a head coach, who’s going to get the blame? The team? The GM? Surely can’t be EB’s fault, as he’s already been anointed as the Next Great Head Coach and his bust is ready for Canton.

  19. Why would he want to go to an organization that is hot garbage like most of the openings this year when he could stay and win super bowls until he finds the best team he can. Maybe he thinks Reid isn’t going to be around much longer and he can inherit the Mahomes Chiefs.

    Either way, I wish the FPA and others who can’t shut up about this would just come out and say they believe owners and front offices are racist and won’t hire him because he’s black. There’s no way that’s true but everyone keeps dancing around it.

  20. Do you people realize how much insane pressure you are putting on EB to succeed as a head coach once he does get the job everyone is obsessed with him getting? JUST because he is black. Stop applying all this pressure and let it play out.

  21. I remember the same thing happened to Sherm Lewis in Green Bay. The League turned out to be right on that one.

    I have no idea what is going on here. He seems like an A-level candidate.

    I hope he gets an opportunity. I’d rather see him than some of the burnouts that keep getting chances.

  22. You can’t hire a coach that is still employed by a team in the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. Why is this so confusing for people?

  23. They really don’t want the general public to root for this guy, huh? Saying it’s annoying hearing about him at this point is an understatement. I’m already looking forward to seeing him fail as a HC so this fanfare can be dropped on its head.

  24. I wish people paid this much attention to my career aspirations. I have enough trouble staying employed w/ a PhD and a record of uncommon achievements. I will not even make rent this month.

  25. The simple solution is for teams to not be able to hire ANY coaches until after the Super Bowl. THEN when he’s interviewed 7 times and passed on 7 times… what will be the excuse?

  26. why should any owner care one iota about what the Fritz Pollard Alliance thinks about anything? If they are that concerned whey don’t they put together the investors, purchase a team and run it any way they see fit?

  27. Why is it that certain groups are obsessed with identity? Hire based on quality not based on a quota.

  28. This is getting ridiculous all of the people going to bat for EB. There must be a reason that ALL of the teams he interviewed didn’t want him. If he just got 1 or 2 interviews and they passed there might be an argument that those teams were looking to check off minority candidate included in search, but when 9 teams pass it’s the candidate. Not the color of his skin.

  29. Don’t owners and those who make the hires for HC in their organizations want to hire the best candidate possible to lead their team? Maybe someone needs a mirror.

  30. Maybe he doesn’t interview well, or GM/Owners feel Reid is running the offense and Eric B is just sending the plays in. Surprised he didn’t get hired this go around.

  31. Are they disappointed in his off the field “problems”? If I can find them online, I’m sure the teams can. If you need a real reason, that’s it.

  32. I have read a lot of insightful comments on here but the reality is nobody really knows why he hasn’t gotten a job. A huge thing I think is the rule about hiring if you are still playing. Why would any team put themselves in a position to get into a bidding war for one guy while weeks went by and other coaches came off the board. Also if you act like it is only about race, which some in the media do, it ignores other reasons which may or may not be able to be improved or changed.Like for example a few have mentioned he doesn’t interview well. If so maybe it is because he is working getting ready for the Superbowl, seems plausible. But if the media insists on just making it about race, then how do you improve the process? Well instead of fixing what is broke you hear things like law suits!

  33. Has there been any HC hired with the past legal allegations against that he has?
    He is an excellent OC and has the skills needed to be an HC.
    Could it be that this is a no-go for many teams?
    The HC reflects on the team, I would expect that he has no chance with a number of teams because of this, even if the teams would not admit this.

  34. Just a lot of hot air. No one is afraid to hire black coaches. They may be afraid of hiring leaders of men with long criminal record.

  35. At this point its obvious his not being hired is not related to his race. Dude runs a little hot and scares people off during the interview process. I bet he gets an opportunity to be a head coach soon meanwhile he is improving himself with more experience as a high end OC. I wish him well and suggest he work on his interview presentation in the offseason.

  36. The Lions just hired their second black gm in less than 10 years and also had a black head coach within 5 years.

    But, yeah tell me more about the reason EB wasn’t hired by them Is due to race?

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