June 8, 2020

Paving a way for others with limited opportunities

Andrew Golden

Today’s lectures provided me with a lot of insight into just how difficult it can be for black coaches to get an opportunity in the NFL. But, talking to Herm Edwards, he provided us with a unique perspective — it’s not always about fairness, but it’s about opportunity. Edwards said that he knew the odds were stacked against him, but he just wanted to make sure he set a standard for other black coaches moving forward. “Sometimes you walk in the park and you’re playing baseball and when you get up to bat, you already have two strikes on you,” Edwards said. “When you get your opportunity, make sure you do it in a way that you allow other people to follow you.” I was moved by that analogy because Edwards created a norm for black coaches in the early years of the NFL and paved the way for many others after him. However, speaking to Scott Brooks, director of research at the Global Sports Institute, showed me just how much farther we have to go. Looking at the statistics from gserl.org, I was shocked by the systematic barriers that still exist for black coaches — whether that was previous coaching experience, age or other factors. Despite having black coaches like Edwards set an example, the NFL needs to do more to encourage and foster diverse coaching staff across the league because the current Rooney Rule is not enough.

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