The NFL has a diversity problem, and it is beyond time to fix it.
Written by Jeff Ramella on January 19, 2020
By Ryan Breyta
In 2003, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one person of a minority race for a coaching vacancy. However, as the rule is supposed to help minority candidates, it is totally ineffective. In a league where 70% of the players are black, there are only three minority coaches and one minority general manager out of 32. There are also no ethnic-minority owners or club presidents in the league. Teams are bringing in only one minority race to interview just to check a box for the Rooney Rule, and the latest example of this was with the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. He was up for the Giants, Browns, and Panthers head coaching vacancies and did not get hired for any of those. Bieniemy is overqualified to become a head coach but he is not getting the opportunity because of his race, and it is sickening to see.
Bieniemy was an NFL player for eight years and has been an assistant coach in college and the NFL since 2001. He has been the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs since 2018, but their head coach Andy Reid is in charge of the offensive play calling. Because Reid is doing the play calling, teams and media have concerns over Bieniemy’s play-calling ability. However, let me go back to the year 2016. Doug Pederson was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 2013-2015 and in 2016, he was hired as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach. Keep in mind, Reid was still head coach then and was calling offensive plays. Where were the concerns over Pederson’s play-calling ability? There were none because he was a white male. If Bieniemy was a white male, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been hired as a head coach by now. He has experience coaching Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, which is probably one of the better offenses in the league. No one can tell me that Bieniemy would not have success with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. No one call tell me that he would not have success with Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Junior. No one can tell me that he would not have success with one of the best running backs in Christian McCaffrey. The more Bieniemy and non-white coaches keep getting denied head coaching positions, there is less hope for minorities to achieve their dream, and the Rooney Rule will remain ineffective.