Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been speaking out publicly this offseason about his belief that there’s been too little progress toward getting more Black head coaches in the NFL.
Tomlin said he’s particularly frustrated that Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who got interview requests from all seven teams with head-coaching vacancies, was passed over this year.
“Bieniemy is a real head-scratcher for me,” Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Every offensive coordinator Andy Reid has had in the last 20 years got a head job. One of those guys, Brad Childress, hired me in Minnesota in 2006. Now, Andy has the best offense he’s ever had and [Bieniemy] can’t get a job?”
The NFL has touted the Rooney Rule for promoting diversity, but there are no more Black head coaches now than there were when the Rooney Rule was adopted 18 years ago. Tomlin says he isn’t sure what else to do.
“I don’t have an answer for you as to how to make it better,” Tomlin said. “The optimist in me says things will get better, but there’s been no evidence in the recent cycles to back that up. Without evidence, all we have is hope. We just haven’t been able to move the needle.”
One thing Tomlin could do is hire a Black coordinator, something he has never done. Tomlin acknowledged that but defended his own record.
“I always do what is best for our organization,” Tomlin said. “I believe in hiring from within in most cases. . . . I’m highly sensitive to it, but I don’t regret [not having a Black coordinator].”
When Tomlin was hired in 2007, there were six Black head coaches in the NFL. This year there will be three.