June 15, 2020

Brooks and Edwards talk inequality in the NFL

Joseph Salvador

I was well aware of the scarcity of African American coaches in the NFL before I heard from Dr. Scott Brooks today, but the statistics he cited were worse than I thought, and underscored the systemic nature of the problem. He talked about about white coaches often being hired from the offensive coordinator ranks, whereas African American coaches more tend to be defensive coordinators. As it turned out, our next speaker was Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards—a former NFL head coach with a defensive background. What followed was perhaps my favorite interview I’ve ever been a part of. He spoke at length on the history of people of color in the NFL and one thing he said particularly struck me. “When you walk up to the plate, you’ve already got two strikes,” Edwards said. He was alluding to the fact that African American coaches are given far fewer second chances as head coaches than their Caucasian counterparts. The result is black coaches simply can’t afford to make a mistake. Edwards’ insight, experience and overall demeanor were invaluable, and I’ll never forget his message. He went so far as to say he is standing on the shoulders of his predecessors and that he would like those who come after him to be able to find that sort of support from him. In any facet of life, we must leave the world in a better place than what we found.

you might also like