With the firing of NFL head coaches Hue Jackson, Todd Bowles, Steve Wilkes, Marvin Lewis and Vance Joseph this offseason, those calling for more minority coaches have a very strong argument. While the league has done some things to encourage more minority hirings – such as the Rooney Rule and minority coaching intern programs – the fact is, the disparity between the percentage of African-American coaches in the NFL and African-American players is disturbing.
One who has no problem calling the league out is new Bucs assistant head coach and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin.
When asked if a lack of minority coordinators had something to do with no African-American coach being hired so far this offseason, Goodwin didn’t mince words.
“Here’s my deal, I had that title for five years, where did it get me?” Goodwin said. “Every time I went in the interview [they said], ‘You didn’t call plays.’ I called plays. BA (Bruce Arians) let me call plays in preseason, but he wasn’t going to give it up. I called plays in preseason. And are we looking for playcallers or are we looking for leaders? We’re looking for leaders of men – leaders that can help build an organization from the ground up on the football side.
“So I did that and the next excuse was, ‘Well we don’t like your staff.’ Well, a lot of my staff is still coaching. Some guys are coordinators now in the NFL that are having a lot of success that were on my list. I will give credit to two owners, [Terry and Kim] Pagula and Shahid Khan. They were actually in the interviews, I can’t say that about the others. Those were real interviews and I appreciate that opportunity. It’s hard for line [coach] background coaches to make it, Doug Marrone was the exception. I think Mike Tice was, and Coach [Tom] Cable. I know Mike Tice called plays, I don’t know if the other ones did or not, but it’s hard, and I’m a realist. I have no ego, I’m about team. If we win I’ll still eat.”
The Glazer family has the best track record in the league for minority hirings, appointing Tony Dungy, Raheem Morris and Lovie Smith as head coaches since taking over the franchise in 1995. No other NFL team has hired three African-American head coaches.
New Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians has now hired African-Americans as his coordinators with Bowles, Byron Leftwich and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, and the Bucs are the only team in the NFL that has three minorities as their top three coordinators.
That fact wasn’t lost on Goodwin.
“It tells you what kind of man he is,” Goodwin said of Arians. “Like I said, he doesn’t care how you got here. As long as you get with him and you’re loyal to him he’s going to look out for you. I’m just kind of sad where football is right now in the National Football League. When it came down to Byron [Leftwich] and myself, the whole coordinator thing, I called Byron weeks ago, before he did decide to get back in, and said ‘Bro, you can have it.’ I don’t coach quarterbacks, I’m not a quarterback whisperer. Can I coach football? Yes, I can, very damn well in my opinion. But there’s a different dynamic between a quarterback talking to a quarterback. I love Byron to death, he’s a brother of mine, and so I’m happy for him. But BA? He don’t care [about a person’s race as long as he can get the job done].
“I like guys that pay their dues. I like that. To each his own. Owners do what they want to do. It’s not my football team, I’m just a part and I’m just happy to be in the club. Owners can do what they want to do. Is some of it kind of discouraging? Yes, it is. But if you keep plugging along, which I will, my day will come. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
During Friday’s press conference, Goodwin said something that made for a very awkward moment when talking about trying to get a head coaching job in the NFL.
“I tried to lighten my skin,” Goodwin said. “I tried to lose some weight.”
After a few seconds of silence, that really felt like minutes, Goodwin broke into a smile and said he as just kidding. And while he was kidding about lightening his skin his statement was very powerful – and no joke. Especially when you look at the Arizona Cardinals firing an African-American head coach in Wilks and signing former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, a young, good looking hot-shot from the college ranks that the Cardinals hope turns out to be the next Sean McVay.
Before the 2018 even ended, the NFL had a significant issue with a lack of minority coaches. Losing five more as 2019 begins makes for an even bigger issue moving forward. Goodwin had no problem pointing it out. Maybe more awkward moments in press conferences need to take place.
And maybe the NFL will listen.