Among N.F.L. Coaches, a Lack of Diversity Trickles Up

The number of minority head coaches has stagnated, and new research suggests this is due to a shortfall in the hiring of minority assistant coaches.

Comments: 152

  1. Six is a stagnant number.

    I did not know that.


  2. Look higher. How many minority owners?

  3. No one is stopping one from writing a check.

  4. 6 out of 32 is 18.75%

    The United States is 12.3% black.

    If anything there is overrepresentation. What exactly do people want?

  5. [[What exactly do people want?]]

    That's easy.

    You announce your desire to be a head coach in the NFL by your actions. Here is Lovie Smith's career path.

    All-state honors as a defensive end and linebacker in high school w/three consecutive state champions from 1973 to 1975.
    University of Tulsa two time All-American.
    Started coaching in 1980 for his alma matter Big Sandy High School as a defensive coordinator.
    Assistant coach at Cascia Hall Prep from 1981 to 1982.
    Linebackers coach at his other alma matter Tulsa from 1983 to 1986.
    Linebackers coach at Wisconsin, Arizona State, and Kentucky and then became a defensive backs coach at Tennessee and Ohio State.
    NFL debut as linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2000.
    Defensive coordinator for the St. Louis rams from 2001 to 2003.
    Head coaching debut for the Chicago Bears in 2004 until 2012.
    Head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, since 2014.

    High school winner, college winner, position coach, assistant, position coach six times over, NFL position coach, NFL DC, then head coach.

    So, "what people want" is an honest assessment of guys like Smith and for them to have a shot. Maybe 19% of NFL head coaches are "black" but how many "black" college and pro position coaches and DCs and OCs can't break through.

    You're welcome.

  6. Look at the race of the players....

  7. 68% of NFL players are black. By comparison, the percentage of black coaches is very low.

  8. So 6 out of 32 is not enough? That represents ~19% of head coaches in the NFL. Am I missing something? What is the goal then? 30%? 50%? Sounds like affirmative action? I do not profess to have the answer, but I found this article "above the fold" online an interesting one to highlight by NYT. Pretty sure the "censors" for the NY Times will not let this comment thru either like all of my other comments bc it does not fit the narrative NYT tries to promote.

  9. 68% percent of the NFL is made up of black players; and 74% of the NBA- Where is the diversity there? When will the NYTimes understand that the more the Black/Liberal community questions diversity and supports affirmative action the more it hurts the Black community - as it causes every Black person --including the most qualified --who have an NFL job or an Ivy league admission to have the shadow of doubt cast upon them as to how they got there. It seems to me that the white liberal community wants to keep Black people separated and questioned - to keep their calls of "racism" alive.

  10. Couldn't agree with you more.
    Indeed, every white player and ivy leaguer should question if they have the right to be there. Do they actually have the right to be there or did their white privilege prevent a more talented black athlete, smarter black student from entry.

  11. Are you saying that white players in the NBA or NFL suffer discrimination in hiring? A good white football or basket ball player doesn't face racism in making football or basketball teams. In fact that best white basketball players in the NBA are from Europe. teams. Do you believe that the NBA and NFL are practicing affirmative action when it comes to deciding who makes their teams? Professional Black athletes especially basketball players have to hone their skills beyond team workouts, and perhaps they should set an example for black students, since your real education begins with homework done after school. To become a good reader, for example, you can't limit your reading to your schoolbook texts.

  12. Since the teams play mostly at publicly supported stadiums, the government should demand that the teams themselves show more diversity. There seems to be a bias against white and especially Asian players. The public should be demanding an "affirmative action" type program so the teams more accurately reflect the racial composition of the United States.

    The same should be done in other sports such as basketball and base ball.

    Also it is clear that these teams woefully discriminate against women. If women are allowed to have combat positions in the Army, should they not also be represented in major sports?

  13. So 16% of NFL coaches are black, compared to their 13% of the US population. How do we raise the fraction of white coaches?

  14. African Americans are about 13% of the US population and 15% of NFL coaches. Let's have a study of the diversity of the NY Times' writing staff.

  15. Not the writing staff - the editorial team who is making these poor calls. I no longer share the NY Times with the kids in my life because the racism is concerning, even embarrassing.

  16. And also perhaps of orchestras, opera and ballet companies, and Nobel laureates?

  17. Please STOP micro-analyzing every facet of life by race (and gender). Other countries don't do this for good reason: it tears apart a united country with its divisive and corrosive effect on national identity. There will be no united United States if we continue with this dangerous obsession with an invented, historically evil social construct that has no basis on biological or physiological reality.

  18. Not speaking of football, particularly, but sometimes things do need to be analyzed. It's not as if those getting the short end of the stick wouldn't realize that if only we wouldn't talk about it. When the area of discrimination is employment, it's especially important that it not be ignored. A job is not just a facet of one's life, but the task occupying the majority of one's waking hours for decades, and the thing that usually determines how well one's family will live and what opportunities one's children will have, not to mention a large part of the identity of most workers.

  19. Invented historically evil social construct? Really?
    So, Jim Crow laws were....what, exactly?
    The numbers, compiled from several predominently white universities, don't lie and do more to unite us than divide.

  20. It seems that the discourse in recent years has veered more towards "quotas" and not merit. Look at the recent brouhaha in the Oscars with those that constantly play the race card complaining that the nominations are not "black" enough. It seems that the cacophony is really separating instead of integrating.

    And the NYT is complicit in this....

  21. The idea of diversity as it is used in this article is quickly becoming the most popular form of racism and bigotry in our society. Gone are the days when a man was supposed to be judged on his character back are the days when the skin color of someone is the most important thing about them. How sad that so many, especially on the left, who claim to be anti-racist are so quick to give value to racial identity.

  22. Without taking active measures to counter decades of discrimination, the under-representation of minorities in positions of power (head coach, general manager) will continue. That is unacceptable in the year 2016. The Rooney Rule doesn't set hiring quotas--it merely insists that minority candidates get the OPPORTUNITY to be hired. The fact that there are still so few minority head coaches and GMs, while white coaches with losing records land job after job, is a clear indicator that these men are not being judge on their character, but on their skin color. If you think the Rooney Rule some form of reverse racism, what remedies would you then suggest?

  23. racism is subconscious

  24. "Then again, two-thirds of the players in the N.F.L. are members of minorities. "

    And why is that plainly OK and not subject to a "Rooney" rule?

    And I think you mean some particular minorities - as some are clearly over-represented while some are clearly under-represented - where is my Asian running back - I played with one in college.

  25. [[SteveRR CA 1 hour ago
    "Then again, two-thirds of the players in the N.F.L. are members of minorities. "

    And why is that plainly OK and not subject to a "Rooney" rule?]]

    Because - and I think you understand this - the guy who runs fastest or jumps the highest is the guy who wins. The bias, based on past experience, is towards "blacks." In coaching, the bias is towards "whites."

    Additionally, you need one head coach but you need several players at skill positions. You can afford to have a "black" WR screw up and have him labelled as a bad WR. You can afford to have a "white" head coach fail and have him labelled as a bad coach.

    A "white" WR or a "black" head coach who screws up is (possibly) going to have his race dragged into the debate.

  26. Two things:

    the article should point out the percentage of black coaches vs. the percentage of blacks in the general population. If we are going to resort to a quota system, might as well peg it to proportion of the population, right? In that light, it seems the whites are overrepresented, blacks are proportionally represented, latinos are underrepresented and asians are not represented at all.

    I suppose we could peg racial quotas, at least in coaching, using the racial makeup of the players. But that seems essentially arbitrary--are we saying that there is some danger of "race mixing" players and coaches such that they need to be the same?

    Also, this point needs elaboration: "But the researchers found little difference in the winning percentages of white and black coaches in their first seasons."

    Does this actually supports the proposition that there is no disparate treatment of minority coaches when controlling for winning percentage (as they currently are equal, says the article)?

  27. Actually, pegging the coaching percentage to player percentage is not arbitrary at all. It should be used as a rough guide for coaching numbers.
    It has nothing to do with "race mixing". What a silly thing to say.

  28. Why do players and coaches need to be the same race?

    I don't understand the rationale. You want to increase the number of black coaches to match the percentage of black players--explain why that number makes sense.

    Should QB coaches have the same racial make-up as QB's?

    I'm saying it's arbitrary because there is no rationale behind it other than something akin to saying people of the same race work better together in a player-coach scenario--which may be true but doesn't sound like much of a public policy rationale as opposed to a factor in private personnel decisions.

    You could pick all sorts of arbitrary numbers to promote such a foolish consistency--why not base it on the racial make up of fans or the racial makeup of owners?

  29. Ken, take a look at the diversity demonstrated in the NFL's players! NFL coaches are former players who have demonstrated leadership and heightened awareness of what it takes to win as individuals and in leading teams. Racial diversity is irrelevant when it comes to NFL Coaches, having the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL is mandatory to be a Coach in the NFL.

    NFL coaches that win football games keep their jobs.
    NFL coaches that fail to consistently win football games lose their jobs.

    If only the same reality applied to Congressional politicians,

  30. The internal logic of this article is somewhat baffling.
    The implication of the headline is that black coaches are underrepresented in the NFL.
    However by my calculation 6 out of 32 is 19%, greater than the proportion of blacks in the U.S.
    So if this isn't the problem, then perhaps it is that that number is "stagnant".
    Which implies it should be increasing.
    Which would generate an even higher proportion of coaches in the NFL who are black than are represented in the U.S. general population.
    But finally at the end it is noted that 2/3 of players are black, and that the proportion of coaches who are black should be more in line with proportion of players are black.
    But couldn't this just as easily be turned on its head, to suggest that whites are underrepresented among players in the NFL?
    It would be nice to know what the author thinks the "right" percentage of coaches who are black should be. We can agree it should not be zero. Should it be 66%? 100%?
    This is unclear, and likely that is a result of the fact that the author of the article does not know either.
    It ends up being another one of those unintentionally inflammatory articles about how there's something wrong here, but we're not sure what it is.

  31. Might be intentionally inflammatory.

  32. If there's something wrong, but we're not sure what it is, how does that automatically make it inflammatory?

  33. I dont think it is unintentionally inflammatory....nyt is constantly running articles about race.

  34. 6 of 32 is almost 19%

  35. Oops. We have to fire a bunch of African American coaches.

    There is something wonderful about the NEW YORK TIMES reporting that research has shown that the lack of African American head coaches is due to the lack of hiring African American head coaches. One wonders how much this research cost.

    Meanwhile, has there ever been an Asian American head coach? How about an Indian American head coach? How about a native American head coach?

    How about a Central Park Horse becoming head coach? What if the citizens of New York redirected the budget money to plug the leaks in the roof on the United terminal at La Guardia airport and invested in a $25 million facility in Central Park to train football fundamentals to horses that will otherwise go to the glue factory thanks to the protection of our wise mayor.

    Where are the Samoans in all this?

  36. Not sure why there is concern that 15% of NFL coaches are black.

  37. Hmmm. Black Americans make up 13% of the population. They make up 18% of NFL coaches. So explain to me why this is evidence of something--anything--being wrong? Oh, wait, maybe I get it: Because most of the players are therefore the coaching staff should be in the same proportion black as the players? Because...coaches are more exalted and powerful than players, and more blacks should have equal access to this level of achievement? But wait--the top players are paid WAY more than the top coaches, so coaching is clearly not where the power is (witness Marshawn Lynch keeping Pete Carroll completely in the dark about his intentions to return after his injury, like he was some kind of low-level staffer).

    It seems like an equally logical takeaway from this is that we should be actively recruiting white players to make the teams more reflective of society at large. I am, of course, not advocating that--it's simply a logical foil. But honestly, can someone explain this to me??

  38. Also, why restrict it to black and white, NY Times? Any concern about, say, Asian under representation? Why (not)?

  39. Pete Carroll makes more than 90% of the players on his team!

  40. Blacks are not under represented as coaches. They are over represented as players. Nothing wrong with merit.

  41. Lovie Smith inherited the Bears, here in Chicago and almost won a Super bowl with what he had been handed. After that he was a mess. Never smiled, showed any expression and had a lousy record thereafter. Were still struggling but Ditka's don't grow on trees. I prefer competency in my coaches.

  42. Folks, I hate to break it to you, but 37% of America is nonwhite, which is indeed far greater than 17%.

  43. Ben: Asian-Americans are not black, and if there have to be representatives of same, black people do not do so.

  44. Yes, but only approximately 13% is African American.

  45. However, America isn't 37% black. This article is strictly focusing on the black/white angle, not other minorities. Blacks represent 13% of the American population, but 17-19% of NFL coaches. And that's what so many of us are pointing out. If the coaching ranks are supposed to represent society at large, shouldn't the percentage of black coaches be much lower?

  46. Why is it always about race? Perhaps the coaches chosen were the best coaches. Should there be a race quota in sports, college admissions, jobs, and in every aspect of life? Does that mean we have to choose the less qualified and discriminate against the more qualified because of race? This is absurd.

  47. Ability to inspire trust might be stronger among same-race folk

  48. Why is the NYT constantly playing the race (baiting) card. So in the last few days, apart from this article, we have had the NYT film critics moaning and groaning that the acting categories are "too white". Please; enough already...

    "I have a dream that one day people will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character..."

  49. The NYT isn't playing the race baiting card. They are reporting the facts. Facts that are hard to swallow, but facts none the less. These facts aren't designed to make anyone feel guilty. They are designed to question that which we were previously unaware.

  50. Again, this is the same as the Oscars. You are judged on merit -- a winning record or a winning performance. It has as much to do with skin color as it has to do with a coach's first name or an actor's last name. It is a meritocracy.

  51. Actually, the players are there because of merit.
    The coaches are there because of who you know.

  52. Yet another "research suggests . . ." article. As if the mere fact that somebody somewhere published something makes it true.

  53. At least it's not "experts say". Of course, conservative experts need not apply.

  54. Especially on non-peer reviews articles on the Internet. It's still research, no? Of course!

  55. Statistics don't support this article. African Americans are decently represented in the coaching ranks compared to the percentage of African Americans in the general population. What percentage of the Times reporters and editorial board are African American?

  56. That's a valid point about the NYT staff. But it only indicates that the racial discrimination that exists in the NFL also exists elsewhere. Using the percentage of African Americans in the general population as a guide doesn't strike me as the right gauge in a sport whose players are overwhelmingly black.

  57. Well, statistics do support this article. AA's are not decently represented in the coaching ranks, compared to the percentage of AA's in the NFL. The general U.S. population doesn't play pro-football.

  58. The NFL consists of teams privately-owned by entrepreneurs who are used to winning in life. Winning is the only form of job security in the coaching profession. And winning knows no race, creed or country of origin. Most NFL owners would hire a Martian if it guaranteed a 10-win season.

    Mike Tomlin of the Steelers is one example of how winning guarantees a coach job security regardless of race. He was a great hire by the Rooney family.

  59. The problem for black coaches is just getting on the coaching carousel.
    Look at Rutgers University. They just fired their head coach and hired a new one, the Defensive Coordinator from Ohio State, who is white and has lived and coached in the midwest.
    For his staff, of 10 on field coaches, only 2 are black. All three recruiters hired are white. The lead Strength coach is black, his assistant is white. All of the coaches hired, he has worked with before, or knew through friends who are coaches. All played or lived in the midwest. When asked what he looked for in his coaches, the Head Coach said, what you'd expect, but also that he wanted guys he was comfortable with.
    Well, he's comortable with 3 black coaches out of 17, With coach Ash, it's 3 of 18, or one in six.
    If you look on the field when Rutgers plays, the ratio of black players is much greater than one in six. And soon, with Rutgers changing to a Spread Offense from the Pro Style, their quarterback will be black for the first time that I can remember.
    To have so few black coaches on this staff, to me, as a white man, seems wrong.
    And so, when you ask why are their so few black head coaches in this league, first you have to be an assistant coach. More needs to be done to get more black coaches and former players on that path.

  60. Two black coaches out of ten exceeds the percentage of blacks in the population. So now you switch the metric to the percentage of black players. Sounds like judging people because of the color of their skins to me.

  61. "Why..." are "Minority Coaches Are Rare in N.F.L.?

    Because they use to be Hollywood actors.

  62. Just a guess here, but because they don't win enough games?

  63. How do you figure when the article stated that not many are in the coordinator ranks? Seems to me they are not in a position to influence the outcomes of games.

  64. Well, as a Steelers fan, I can say for certain that the Rooney rule has worked for us! Mike Tomlin is a class act/motivator/football genius.

  65. [[Megahan melbourne, Australia
    Well, as a Steelers fan, I can say for certain that the Rooney rule has worked for us! Mike Tomlin is a class act/motivator/football genius.]]

    There is a desired football HQ type. Tough, set jaw, demanding, a winner. You look at Tomlin and you don't see color…you see a head coach. It's a type that transcends skin color.

    FWIW, Coughlin (white guy) always looked overwhelmed and ready to cry. When his players screwed up and the camera cut to him, his jaw was on the floor like "What the heck just happened!?!?!"

  66. You would have hired him anyway.

  67. The "Rooney Rule", is not an official NFL rule or bylaw, it is a general agreement among the owners. That is why there are no repercussions from the league for not having a formal interview process to hire head coaches. The NFL is to busy assisting their part-time referees in tracking down game balls.

    The crux of the article is that the players are not becoming coaches and the players, are by far, mostly African-Americans, and therefore they are under represented in the head coaching ranks.

    The status quo rules the day!

  68. Dr. King would likely consider an article like this to be irrelevant and scurrilous.

  69. The problem persists because black NFL players lack the foresight, organization, and education to demand change. It's as simple as that.

  70. [[A. M. Payne Chicago
    The problem persists because black NFL players lack the foresight, organization, and education to demand change. It's as simple as that.]]

    Regardless of race, NFL players have zero ability to influence hiring, Everyone of them is a torn ACL away from being unemployed.

  71. Diversity is generally defined as, "Differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area." I wish journalists and progressives would stop muddying the water by using the term when they are referring only to skin color. In this story, the author is obviously referring only to African-Americans, not even Asians or Hispanics. With clearer language, the stupidity of the thesis - a dearth of black head coaches - becomes obvious. Obviously, there is no dearth of black head coaches.

  72. The best person for every job should get that job regardless of color. Linkedin should not be allowed to show facial images with resumes. That clearly has increased racism in job applications.

  73. LinkedIn shouldn't exist in the first place. It certainly wouldn't if CAN-SPAM had any teeth.

    Alas, a magnificently bad Congress helps it thrive, and employers check it and other anti-privacy social networks--which sustains the networks, government spying, and corporate who-you-know hiring.

  74. Re: LinkedIn, an understandable fear, but where is your evidence? Also, I don't believe the NFL utilizes LinkedIn to hire coaches.

  75. Omrider writes: "The problem for black coaches is just getting on the coaching carousel." How right he is. If you can't get on the carousel how do you demonstrate your credentials?

  76. The NFL's biggest lack of diversity is on the field. How do we fix that? More Asian and white players are needed to better reflect the demographics of America. Of course this is a foolish idea since the best person should get the job regardless of color....

  77. Same with basketball. And hockey - more Black and Asian and Hispanic players are needed.

    Diversity at its best.....

  78. Two things I'd like to mention here. First, why is there even a discussion about black or white coaches. If we are ever to be over racism then we've got to start talking about coaches, period. There should be no mention of what their skin color is. Otherwise, we're adding a racial element to the discussion which is something that will only help to perpetuate racism. To be completely over racism we need to eliminate mention of skin color. Secondly, who are the geniuses that came up with this research? There aren't as many black head coaches because there aren't enough black assistant coaches. Wow. Great insight. Anyone that knows ANYTHING about football could tell you that in about 3 seconds. Great job, guys. How much did you get paid for this bit of startling information?

  79. Teams will interview a minority candidate they have no intention of hiring--Duce Staley by the Eagles, for example--thus making a mockery of the Rooney Rule. But baseball doesn't even make a pretense, and second-rate white coaches survive at a far higher rate than their more succesful Black counterparts.

  80. The truth!!!

    The Rooney Rule is a mockery!

  81. There are 32 NFL teams, so 6 black head coaches is an over representation. There is probably some reverse racism going on. We should insist on an exact numerical quota and get 50% women into the job as well.

  82. If this was turned in by a J school student, what grade do you think it would get?

    There is, as far as I can recall, ONE solid point made about the difficulties faced
    by black coaches - that they don't get promoted as fast as comparably-performing white coaches. Other commenters have uniformly, and rightly, criticized this piece because it fails to understand that
    1. black coaches are overrepresented versus the population at large,
    2. there are more racial groups than black and white,
    3. being a player does not make you automatically a success as a coach and
    4. the fact that there is a huge majority of black players might imply that the NFL is not totally hostile to them - we are ok with this amazing imbalance because we believe that the NFL IS a meritocracy in this regard. Yet they don't have to go with the best available coach? Hmm. Heard of Belichick? Think good coaches matter? Think the NFL owners know it?

    To summarize; there is a little evidence that black coaches do not get promoted fast (although one wonders if it is statically significant) but there ARE plenty of black coaches in place, based on the population as a whole. So they got there somehow. Where is this article going?

  83. What percent of team owners are black? (And one can't hire more owners.)

  84. For African Americans, playing and coaching football is a trap.Firmly, the average player stays in the NFL for only three years. And many head coaches are fired before their contracts expire. Numbers are sometimes funny, if 18.75% of the chef executives of the 500 largest corporations were African American wouldn't that be considered great progress. Also of 6 out of the 32 NFL teams were owned by African Americans wouldn't that be an indicator of great progress.

  85. How can the Times criticize the NFL and Hollywood for the lack of diversity
    when their lack of diversity is so much more.
    They have ten columnist and only one is black and four are Jewish in a country where black people out number Jews six to one.
    If the columnist reflected the population there should be at least two black column who are black and only one who is Jewish.
    Why do they do apply a principle to others and then not apply that principle
    to themselves.
    When I was young you would have called them a limousine Liberal.
    This is what they are.

  86. Interesting. There are even less Asians represented in the NFL. As an Asian, should I be upset that we're underrepresented? We make up 4.8% of the population so that should translate to 1-2 Asian coaches in the NFL. Anything less is a shame, right? Just checking so I know when to be angered.

  87. Please, people, aside your knee-jerk reaction and read the article carefully. Black coaches have a harder time rising up the coaching ranks, despite equal performance, than white coaches. As stated in the referenced study's abstract: "...after implementation [of the Rooney Rule] white assistant coaches continued to be promoted at higher rates than similarly-performing minority ones."

    For everyone shouting this is race-baiting, anti-meritocratic politics -> the study's conclusion is that, due to discrimination, the coaching profession is NOT a meritocracy. Just because 19% (black NFL coaches) > 12% (black American citizens), racial discrimination may still be occurring. In particular, there appears to be a higher percentage of qualified black assistant coaches than are actually promoted to head coach positions.

    And if you're truly skeptical, please read over the analysts' dozens of pages of quantitative/qualitative evidence before discounting it.

  88. Look forward to the next article about the lack of white cornerbacks and black placekickers.

  89. [[The net result is that the league has six minority coaches]]

    First, let's lose the "minority" tag when we are talking about a specific job in a specific industry. No one thinks you mean there are too few Ashkenazi Jews or Mennonites coaching in the NFL. You mean blacks and latinos…so just say blacks and latinos.

    Beyond that, [[Herman Edwards said many coaches were hired and promoted based on their relationships, which is both understandable but also an impediment to closing the gap between the number of black and white coaches.]]

    I had this exact conversation today with someone about the challenges in integrating a police department. When you're looking to make a hire, you ask your current staff for recommendations. They point to people who live in their neighborhood, go to their church, etc.

    Anyway, here's the thing, NFL coaching ranks are such a weird subculture, guys paid millions of dollars a year to produce a losing record. Does it matter if one or two more guys who fail to make the playoffs are "black"? I don't know and I don't really care.

    Is Lovie Smith a "black" guy first of all or is he a rich guy looking to keep the gravy train rolling?

    Do you really need a "black" coach to "relate" to the "black" players?

    Did the "black" head coach of the Jets need someone to translate his game plan from Ebonics to communicate with his QB?

    I could go on….

  90. This article reads like a legal brief. The writer has a point to make and cherry-picks in the guise of scholarship to make that point.

    "The Giants stood by Tom Coughlin through a fourth straight year of missing the playoffs before giving him the option of resigning, which he accepted, rather than be fired."

    It seems to me any coach who had recently won 2 Superbowls (as had Coughlin) will get patience extended to him, no matter his skin color.

  91. Interesting, there are 32 teams. Using census data, 13% of US is african-american, therefore if the NFL wanted to mimic ACTUAL census percentages, there should be 4.3 black coaches. The league has 6 minority coaches (albeit, one is latino, Ron Rivera). What's even more interesting is that the percentage of NFL players does NOT mimic census data, and in fact, favors african-americans. Playing in the NFL is lucrative and the rewards are far larger than in most industries. Yet, there is no table pounding or affirmative action push to force the NFL to present a more representative reflection of the nation. The argument is that the most talented person is the one that gets selected for the team regardless of ethnicity. Isn't that the way it should be? Why is there a double standard for coaches?

  92. Some of the dumbest ideas in this country revolves the whole idea of a racial quota. Its really quite absurd that there's racial quotas for things like promotions, who to hire, who to admit to school, and in this instance who to be head coach.

    Could it be that inconceivable that when a person is interested in hiring he doesn't care what color the guy is?! Can't he just be left alone to choose who is a good coach!? I mean is that so absurd?

    The worst part of this article is that while it is complaining about the lack of diversity of NFL coaches, a large percentage of NFL players are black. If one was to say this particular kind of job is lacking blacks why would they not look two feet away and realize that hey there's quite a few black players...maybe we should start recruiting football players from Iraq and China so we can be more "diverse."

  93. Good job writing a "quotas" piece without any mention whatsoever of performance. Just skin color. There were a bunch of places where merit/performance could have been studied or mentioned. Nothing.

    This is not casting for a photo shoot.

  94. Black Americans represent 13.2 percent of the population in the US. Black coaches in the NFL, if as the story claims 5 of 32 current NFL head coaches are black, constitute 15.6 percent of coaches in the NFL. 29% of assistant coaches are minority coaches, most of them black.

    If that is the case, what's the problem?

    Answer: there is no problem.

    Is there really a story here? Or is it just more race-mongering using dubious statistics?

  95. The explanation offered seems too specific to football coaching. African Americans are under-represented in virtually all high-prestige and high-income job roles. Would it not make more sense if there was one common explanation, rather than thousands of individual explanations across different career choices?

  96. Blacks are roughly 13% of the U.S. population.
    5 out of 32 NFL head coaches (15.6%) are black.
    So black guys are slightly over-represented at NFL head coaching positions already. But hey, why let basic arithmetic get in the way of the narrative of black oppression in the NFL?

  97. This is yet another case of the NYT discovering a problem that does not exist. Years ago it rent its garments over the relative lack of black quarterbacks. This weekend two of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, Russel Wilson and Cam Newton fought it out in Carolina. In Washington, one of the most promising quarterbacks in years, RGIII, turned out to lack the skill set to be a successful NFL quarterback. What does this mean? It means that in any sufficiently competitive enterprise—the NFL is perhaps the most competitive on Earth— talent, whether black or white, will rise to the top. The idea that black coaches are not given an equal chance to succeed, is simply absurd.

  98. So your logical comment is a nyt why do they publish an article that says its a racial thing and not a talent thing. Furthermore, racism cannot trickle to,the top, when the bottom is overrepresented by blacks

  99. James Currin, you say that "The idea that black coaches are not given an equal chance to succeed, is simply absurd". Do you have ANY EVIDENCE whatsoever to support you claim? No? So it's your OPINION versus the research of several university professors. Whom should I believe? The OPINION of a random dude on the internet? Or the published peer-reviewed research of university professors? :-)

  100. The ratio of whites to blacks in the U.S. is roughly 5:1. The ratio of white coaches to blacks in the NFL is roughly 5:1. I don't see any disparity.

  101. The liberal obsession with race that has arisen recently must be very exhausting.

    How many Asians and Hispanics play in the NFL? Seems to me they are underrepresented. Why no articles about that?

  102. Coaches make good money; the guys who won the teams are filthy rich.*
    Maybe we need to talk more about diversity among team owners? That's where the real racket is.
    *Props to Chris Rock on the insight.

  103. Sorry, the NFL is huge business, and in general, is quite well run. The NFL, to my mind, is an organization that is professional at the highest level. I really do not think that there is racism there. The teams are trying to win, and are looking for the best people possible, regardless of race. Black coaches have won Super Bowls; so have black quarterbacks. No one cares who the face is under the helmet or the headset; fans care about winning.

    The only reason they have not to hire black coaches, in fact, is the howl that goes up from the media when one is hired. Why bother to hire them if, when you have to dismiss them, there are columnists defending them because they are black? If Lovie Smith were white, you would not care that he was fired.

  104. I'm black & have my very black face featured on LinkedIn. I get unsolicited calls from recruiters for jobs in places such as Maine where blacks are very few. I've probably been discriminated against & I've probably been called because I was black. I don't know & don't really care. I do know this constant obsessing over diversity is becoming too much.

    People complaining about not being picked for subjective awards that their own presumably liberal peers are voting on. Now a league dominated by black men is supposedly flawed because a lack of black coaches. Never mind 2 black coaches won the Super Bowl in the last 15 years.

  105. Race is not a binary. If you want to call attention to lack of racial representation, how about East Asians or Hispanics in the NFL, let along the coaching staff?

  106. The majority of NFL players are African-American, even though the African-American population in the United States is 13.2 percent.

    This is particularly true when it comes to running backs and wide receivers. An African-American running back retires and the odds are almost 100 percent he will be replaced by another African-American running back. An African-American wide receiver gets cut and the odds are nearly 100 percent he will be replaced by another African-American wide receiver.

    It's intellectually dishonest for people to advocate for diversity amongst coaches but not the players.

  107. The readership of the New York Times is overwhelmingly liberal. Yet the comments on this board show you how sick and tired all Americans -- both left and right -- are of this constant need to properly 'diversify' every single institution and organization based on the color of people's skin.

  108. I don't understand: There are 32 teams, 5 head coaches are African American. That's 15% of all available positions filled by AA's. As African Americans currently comprise around 13% of the US population, so this seems like a fair distribution.

  109. Right-minded people shouldn't be concerned with how many black coaches there are. But they should be very much concerned with any evidence of discrimination. The principal evidence of discrimination here is that black coaches don't get promoted. At first glance, that suggests discrimination. But there is an alternative explanation. Position coaches often played ball themselves. Retired players at certain positions are likely to be black -- running backs, in particular. Such position coaches are specialists, less likely to move up the ranks. If they are disproportionately black, that would tend to explain the disparity in promotions.

  110. The reasoning behind this article seem specious. Even if one thought the % of coaches by race and ethnicity ought to mimic that of the players, the variance in a sample size of 16 head coaches is too large to support this belief. However, with 37.5% of head coaches in the NFL African American that is nearly 300% of the proportion of African Americans in the general population. So the questions that arise include: a)What % of head coaches are former NFL players and b) what % of NFL players become coaches and does that % differ for African Americans and caucasians(and Hispanics and Polynesians for that matter.) Without answers to these questions its hard to make sense of the facts underlying the article altho the author's beliefs are clear cut.

  111. Over 50% of the U.S. population is female. Has there ever been a female head coach? Are there any female assistant coaches?

  112. The NFL and NBA lacks diversity in players.

  113. Interestingly, the fact that first year black and white coaches have similar records undermines the argument that racial bias underlies head coach hiring.

    If the hurdle for black coaches was significantly higher such that more qualified or equally qualified African-Americans were not getting head coaching jobs, then the black head coaches who were hired should have a noticeably better record than their white peers.

    That said, there may be something to the "network effect" noted by Herm Edwards but evidence suggests this is fading.

  114. I have a feeling that those commenting here saying, "Why are we always looking at this from race" are all white.
    When it doesn't affect you outside of "privilege", it is not a concern.

  115. Has anyone asked the players what they want? Or are you doing their thinking for them?

  116. So if we are going to bring up lack of ' blackness' in the coaching ranks why do we stop there? How many kickers are black and represent the proportion of one color of people in the general population?

  117. Imagine an investment bank where 2/3rds of the analysts are white and 85% of the partners are black.

    Now imagine the number of white partners never changes even though the white analysts performance is equal to their black peers.

    Fiinlly, imagine that accounting for the same level expeience, skill set, and performance the white analysts were paid less and took longer to promote...

    Yeah, I can't imagine that either....

  118. Race does not matter..performance matters...making this and the Academy Awards a racial issue is making a chicken sandwich out of fish.Stop it already..

  119. african american coaches are tired of all this racism in the nfl and being kept down! if they don't start getting more head coaching jobs, they may go on strike! goodell needs to order teams to hire more minority coaches!

  120. What I don't understand is how the calculation is made to conclude that there is not enough diversity. African Americans make up 12% of the population. There must be about 30 NFL teams. There are 6 African American coaches. Thats 20% of the coaches. Are we aspiring to match the % of players? Of fans? Are we going to apply this calculation everywhere so that where there are 90% white people somewhere we want 90% white leadership? Where are we going with all this identity obsession? This kind of thinking/journalism is why Donald Trump is even a viable candidate.

  121. Good ole NYT, doing their best to perpetuate the racial divide. The NFL owners are a super competitive bunch of people. I am pretty sure they hire those whom they think are best for the job. Crybabies often conflate outcomes with intent. Just because there aren't that many black coaches doesn't prove any racism, just as the Oscar nominee situation doesn't prove anything. Is it impossible to accept that perhaps there aren't any people of color operating on the same level in some fields of endeavor, just as whites don't operate on the same level in other areas? Most of the players are black and I don't see anyone complaining about that.

  122. The NFL should establish a racial quota for coaches immediately. A losing record alone should not be the overriding factor in determining whether a coach gets fired ... unless he is white.

  123. LACK OF DIVERSITY OF COACHES IN THE NFL CORP. . . . surely the least of its problems. Potential brain damage to the players makes pale by comparison the problem you speak about.

    Marx (not Groucho) called sports (along with religion) as one of the opiates for keeping the proletariats under control.

    Also, that football (both NFL Corp. or college style has become an obsession by most Americans ... and they don't realize that all 32 teams are just really the same. And the object of the game is for the NFL to make as much money as possible ... and, many of their stadia are built by public tax money.

    Pete Rosell was a genius in making all teams national know ... and combing his sport with the major TV networks.

  124. Blacks are 13% of the population. There are currently 5 black head coaches for 32 teams. 32 X 13% = 4.16. Why should anyone be complaining? They're over-represented by almost 1.

  125. Why would anyone expect the promotion of coaches is anything other than related to networking and "who you know and have worked with"? A more interesting question, and one would think this logically would lead to more new coaches period, is why do these owners keep hiring re-treads that have not found success with other teams? In the corporate world, if you kept managing mediocre companies, you'd be retired.

  126. First the Oscars and now this? Shouldn't a person's qualifications supersede their race? And as far as Lovie Smith, every year he coached the Bucs their record improved. And the Bucs kicked him to the curb (bad idea). The problem with some of these team owners is that they want immediate gratification by winning every thing. Life doesn't work that way.....neither does football. Get over it.

  127. NFL, Lack of Diversity... And here I thought I'd be reading about how we can address the lack of diversity among the players.

  128. When are we going to get past all these politically correct issues about diversity and get back to more sensible issues, such as, the best qualified for the job?

    There is significant diversity in the NFL at the player level, where players are clearly selected on the basis of ability alone. In fact, some may even say that minority players are over represented, but that does not trouble most of us who want to see the most talented players on the field. I suspect these same people want to see the most talented coaches on the sidelines as well.

    Who wants to see any mediocrity on their favorite team, unless, of course, they really do not care if their team wins or loses as long as the team is politically correct from top to bottom?

  129. Since the diversity issue keeps coming up with coaching, why is no one upset that Danny Woodhead is the only (prominent) white running back? It's simple - regardless of race, if someone is better at a job than the incumbent, they will get the job/playing time over the other.

  130. Should we in turn be upset that the majority of head coaches fired every year are white?

    The NFL diversity rule is misplaced.
    Minority coaching staff require a diversity rule at the coordinator and assistant level, not at the 32 position Head Coach level

  131. Here is a little free form Haiku

    NFL teams like to win. A vast majority of NFL players are "minorities". Good players often do not make good coaches. Some people have too much time on their hands.

  132. So 6 out of 32 is 18.8% of all head coaches, which actually exceeds the percentage of blacks in the US population, which is ~13%. Moreover, you state that 29% of assistant coaches are minority, aka black, which is a priori evidence of prejudice against non-minorities in hiring. The number of players who are minorities is even more out of line with expectations based on the premise, used in all non-sports settings, that the ability of minorities and whites in any given activity is equal. So, the NFL clearly needs to initiate an affirmative action program, modeled on what is used by companies to assure appropriate diversity, so get the number of members of each ethnic group in America more in line with their actual representation.

  133. When will we see an article in the NYT calling for the racial composition of the NFL and NBA to match the United Stated racial breakdown?

    What I always find so strange about the forced quota crowd (like the authors of this piece) is that they seem to operate from the premise that America is 50% white and 50% black, and all jobs, college admissions, movie awards, etc, need to be divided 50/50. Ignoring for the moment the absolute racism that first looks at a person's skin color rather than his or her individual qualifications, the premise itself is faulty and seems to be an intentional distortion by the liberal media. African-Americans make up approximately 12% of the U.S. population, whites around 64%, so no, there is no 50/50 split, thus the "unequal" representation in most things in America is simply a product of numbers, not a racist conspiracy as constantly pushed, expressly or impliedly, by media like the NYT.

  134. Interesting... this focus on diversity. How many players are non-black? I don't see too many people commenting on that. You think it may be a question of merit and availability?

  135. What about adding diversity among the players. Seems like a imbalance in this area also. 67% of one race, should this be closer to 50/50%

  136. First let me thanks the NYT for addressing this issue. I'm a Chicagoan and a consummate sports fan. Lovie Smith ranked #3 in wins for the Chicago Bears behind the two HOF: George Halas, owner/coach; Mike Ditka. Smith, was the last modern day coach to take the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2005 where they were defeated by Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy's Colts. Lovie was fired after his 9th year even though he had a winning 10-6 record. Like many NFL teams, the GM picks the players; the coach coaches them. Lovie unfortunately had QB's that played poorly; in fact, J. Cutler is having his best year after a losing 6-10 season. Lovie was fired. After two years Tampa gave his a shot. Tampa was a work in progress with many losing seasons. Without a QB the his first year the Bucs went 2-14. This year 6-10 with a rookie QB, Winston. Lovie was fired with 2 years remaining on his contract. He was respected by the players. 2016 was going to be the year; but, Lovie didn't get the opportunity to fail or succeed. The former, is what white coaches and in a broader reality white American are given as a rule of thumb. There is a long list of questionable firings and by passing AA coaches: Tony Dungy after reviving Tampa is fired. After a firestorm of complaints the Colts pick him up...Colts win the super bowl. Dennis Green, with the Cardinals and Vikings had winning records. Fired. Caldwell averted a near firing. Mike Singletary fired from 49ers after reviving them. Etc.

  137. While 65% of NFL players are black, this article fails to mention that the vast majority of NFL coaches never played in the NFL (or if they did, they were only in for a cup of coffee). This includes black coaches Jim Caldwell, Mike Tomlin, and Todd Bowles; as well as white coaches like Bill Belichick, Chip Kelly and Tom Coughlin. Becoming an NFL coach is a decades long grind, with most coaches starting right out of college.

  138. Based on the comments, it’s unclear whether most readers actually read the article carefully.

    “The study...looked at the careers of more 1,200 N.F.L. coaches from 1985 to 2012 and found that black coaches consistently moved more slowly up the ranks than their white counterparts, despite roughly equal performance and skill sets. Black coaches are less likely to be promoted than white ones, independent of their first position, their current position, their employer, their prior experience, their education and their age.”

    It’s pretty clear that even when other factors are kept constant (e.g. education, experience), white coaches are promoted more quickly than black coaches…supporting the premise that black coaches are underrepresented in the NFL.

    On the flip side, whites might be underrepresented among players in the NFL, particularly in some of the “skill" positions. Interestingly, for example, the top three receiving options on the New England Patriots are Gronkowski, Edelman, and Amendola (all white). Previously, Wes Welker was a vital receiver for the Patriots following years of anonymity in Miami. It makes me wonder if Bill Belichick has found a "market inefficiency" regarding race and wide receivers.

  139. Stop using the word DIVERSITY for blacks. Blacks/African Americans don't come from DIVERSITY. They are not DIVERSE-Americans. They are Americans.

    Does every single job in America have to be doled out in direct proportion to the number of people represented in the population? Do we have to reserve 12.2% of all jobs for blacks (that should include all jobs on NFL, NBA, etc. rosters, right?)? How about Pacific Islanders? Native Alaskans (not sure what this morning's PC term is for Eskimos)? What happened to the meritocracy that built this country. What happened to a business owner having the right to hire whomever he/she/it believes will contribute most to the bottom line (the basic tenet shared by all businesses)?

    We need to have an accurate census taken and have people characterize themselves in whatever category makes them feel un-offended by the "majority" aka un-DIVERSE (who don't get to choose). Then the GOVERNMENT needs to hire in those exact percentages as represented by the populace (been to a government office lately?, way overly DIVERSE). If more than 12.2% (just a number for illustration purposes, calm down) of the jobs go to people from DIVERSIA, then the overage MUST be fired to keep things fair. Private businesses get to remain under the control of their owners (how un-American). The only logical and egalitarian place to impose DIVERSITY restrictions is in GOVERNMENT since we all know it is for the people, by the people.

    Let's be fair!

  140. I hope it's just readers of the NYT sports section who seem to lack any historical perspective and not readers of more important parts of the paper. All the major sports leagues and their franchises had to be dragged kicking and screaming to full integration and to say a league (NFL) that didn't hire it's first black head coach until 1989 (Art Shell) is now a complete meritocracy is laughable. And those comparing the percentage of black head coaches to the percentage of blacks in the general population would do better to compare the percentage of black players in the NFL (68%) to the percentage of black head coaches (laughable). Sports in general and football in particular are not exactly hotbeds of enlightenment. If winning is paramount that certainly doesn't explain why the Crimson Tide didn't recruit it's first black player until 1970 or why the Washington Deadskins waited until 1962 to sign a black player (more than decade after the Dodgers signed Robinson!). College boosters, franchise owners, fans, TV, regional "preferences" and discrimination in general have all contributed to a lack of diversity in positions of power. And while many things have changed for the better, the different language and vocabulary used to describe black vs white athletes (as well as the reader comments here) clearly indicate we still have a long way to go.

  141. There are many black players who are capable of doing the job but have no desire because of these jobs pay very little as compared to what they were being paid as players and to take this job is a huge step down.
    To get to the NFL you have to have started playing in college.
    While it is true most NFL players are black most college players are not.
    Very few college football players are good enough to make it in the NFL and most these players are white.
    These players are the ones who go into coaching as they have no skills to do anything else that pays as well and because most of these players are white then most of these coachers are white.
    Most of the coaching staff on a NFL team come from people who started out this way because this is the way one learns how to coach.
    It therefore follows that most NFL coachers will be white.
    This is not rocket science.
    If you follow football you should know the above and should not be surprised
    when most coachers are white.

  142. If the idea that some qualified people are passed over because of their skin color doesn't make you sick, I contend you are a heartless, white male, who would rather defend his position than accept that the world grants him a privilege just for being white, and would rather not have to compete on equal grounds, for fear of losing.

  143. How do you feel about the following:

    1. Most players in the NFL are black
    2. Most players in the NBA are black
    3. Most players in the NHL are white

    Almost no Asians or Hispanics in any of those, or in MLB either. But that doesn't seem to bother you.

  144. If there were dozens of hispanic and asian players in college who were being passed over, I would be agitating for them too. So saying that it doesn't bother me only is a distraction. What are you trying to derail the conversation?

  145. KarlosTJ,
    The players in those leagues are selected based on one thing: MERIT. If you don't believe me, or if you don't like selection based on MERIT, then you should get a General Manager job at one of those teams, then hire mostly Asians and Hispanics as players. Let me know how many games you win, and how long you last before the team owner fires you.

  146. If the NFL hires its first 5 Asian coaches, will that solve the minority hiring problem?

  147. Reading through the comments one can see why racial bias continues to bedevil the United States. I use bias instead of racism because I believe the vast majority of commenters to this article would bristle at being called racist... And I suspect most are not.

    Bias can happen at an unconscious level and otherwise good people can unknowingly support policies and cultural practices that by themselves can have a "racist" impact.

    What do I mean?

    Well for one thing, how many comments here focus on the ratio of black NFL coaches to the general population of African Americans? These comments miss the point that while the primary generators of revenue are 2/3 African American the number of African American "Assistant" Coaches are not only way underrepresented but they advance more slowly and get paid less EVEN when accounting for experience, skill sets, and job effectiveness.

    Imagine an Wall Street investment house where 2/3rds of the analysts where white, 85% of senior management black but the number of white senior managers never increased. What's worse, the white senior managers just rotated through different jobs and very rarely did a new white analyst get promoted to the senior ranks.

    In addition to that even though the white analysts performed on par with their black counterparts they earned roughly half what black analysts earned over the course of a 20 year career.

    Yeah, I can't imagine that either.

  148. “Black coaches are less likely to be promoted than white ones, independent of their first position, their current position, their employer, their prior experience, their education and their age,” the authors wrote in the paper, “Racial Disparity in Leadership: Performance-Reward Bias in Promotions of National Football League Coaches.”

    Racism equals lack of diversity.

  149. Why do so many people assume that being a good football player, which depends so much (but not at all entirely) on size, strength, speed, hand eye coordination and overcoming pain automatically translates into being a good coach, which involves none of those qualities?

    the role of racism needs to be explored and eliminated, but not assumed to automatically be the answer.

  150. White men are approximately 35% of the US population, but they are about 95% of CEO's. Since so many of the commenters want leadership to reflect the general USA DEMOGRAPHIC population, I guess we must reduce the % of white male CEO's until its down to 35%, right? Ensuring that there is an exact representation match with the general population is the most important thing, right? And of course, we'll also have to reduce the percentage of white male NFL coaches down to 35%. With 32 teams, there should be about 11 white male NFL head couches. What's that, you don't like this logic anymore?! Ha!

    I know someone will say: Well then it follows that we need to put more white players in the NBA. Ok. Go ahead, create an NBA team that's 75% white, and let me know how many games you win! :-)

    Ok, time to get serious. Leadership in most any organization should reflect the makeup of THAT organization, NOT the general population. If 75% of bankers are white males, we would expect that 75% of bank CEO's would be white males. And if 50% of football players are black, we would expect that 50% of football coaches would be black.

  151. Five head coaches out of 32 teams is about 16%. Blacks are about 13% of the total US population. Where is the representation problem?