One longtime acquaintance on an NFL coaching staff called with a rhetorical question that pops into my head whenever somebody mentions the league's problem hiring African-American head coaches. "Do you know how hard it is to win 10 games in the NFL?'' the coach asked. Statistics prove his point: In the last five seasons, 55 NFL teams have won 10 or more games in a season, an average of 11 per year. That means 21 teams — two-thirds of the league — typically don't. The Bears went 10-6 and fired Lovie Smith anyway. They had valid reasons; after nine seasons in the same place, complacency had crept into the organization and the offense needed an overhaul the Bears understandably didn't think Smith could pull off given his history with offensive coordinators. They sought a change in direction that was easy to endorse. This isn't about Smith losing his last job. This is about him still chasing his next one. Why is Lovie Smith still unemployed? You can believe the Bears made the right move firing Smith and still think several teams did the wrong thing in overlooking a veteran NFL head coach who offered struggling franchises stability. You cannot consider Smith's plight without acknowledging all eight of the NFL's head coaching vacancies were filled by white men — a league embarrassment exacerbated by minority candidates being shut out of seven general manager openings too. Smith's unemployment underscores the dilemma facing the NFL as the league gathers for Super Bowl XLVII this week in New Orleans with its fewest number of minority African-American head coaches — three — in a decade.
Lack of diversity still big problem in NFL
Chicago Tribune | Jan 27