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Mike Tomlin believes there's no recent evidence to be optimistic about minority head coach hiring

Updated: Feb 28


(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


There have been just 23 minority head coaches hired in the NFL's modern era and there are currently just five minority head coaches in the league -- Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, Ron Rivera, Robert Saleh and David Culley. Three of the five minority head coaches are Black -- Tomlin, Flores and Culley.


Tomlin, who has won more games than any Black head coach in NFL history, appeared on HBO's "Real Sports" on Tuesday night with Bryant Gumbel where they discussed the NFL's failure to hire more minority head coaches.


"It is a global collective failure from my perspective," Tomlin told Gumbel on minority head coach hiring.


Gumbel asked Tomlin if it's bull s*** when the league talks about being more diverse when it comes to hiring minority head coaches at NFL Owners meetings.


"I don't know if it is at the time, but I know that the results are," Tomlin said. "If you're looking for guys who are coordinators, there's examples of that. If you want a guy that's a proven capable leader, there's Jim Caldwell and Marvin Lewis. There's guys like Todd Bowles, Raheem Morris and others. There are capable examples of minority candidates no matter the profile."



Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently talked with Tomlin about the lack of minorities being hired for head coach positions.


“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.”


Cook asked Tomlin about not having a Black coordinator during his tenure with the Steelers. He responded by saying he likes to hire within most of the time. Tomlin interviewed Black coaches Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton for his offensive coordinator’s position last month but ended up promoting his quarterbacks coach, Matt Canada.


“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]. I’ve had some good [Black] coaches leave for other jobs. Ray Horton. Scottie Montgomery went back to college. Kirby Wilson was hurt in that house fire.”


Jim Trotter of NFL.com tweeted an interesting statistics yesterday in regards to nepotism when it comes to head coach hiring. According to Trotter, 10 of the 32 head coaches “are sons, fathers or brothers of a current or former NFL coach.” Of the 73 coaches related to a current or former NFL coach, 55 are white.

Tomlin told Cook that the lack of Black head coaches in the NFL goes beyond just football.


“Hate is winning in 2021,” he said. “What we saw in 2020 as a society is proof of that. That’s why it’s hard for me to be optimistic. I have sons who are young men now. They are facing the same situations that I did when I was their age. We’ve gone a generation without improvement.


“If you are against hate, stand up and be heard because your silence is contributing to it.”






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