Less talk. More action.

Kolby KickingWoman

#KickinWithKolby — Thoughts from a Native sports fan #Sportzball

“Black Monday” in the National Football League is the first Monday after the end of the regular season where head coaches from underperforming teams are usually fired.

This year, there were five openings in the coaching carousel: the Cleveland Browns, Washington football team, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers. All but the Panthers let their head coaches go on “Black Monday” and currently only Browns have yet to fill their coaching vacancy.

In 2003, the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule, with the aim of diversifying the people in head coaching positions and strengthen diversity within the league. Teams must interview at least one minority candidate in their coaching search and the rule has been expanded over the years to include front office positions.

Yet, year in and year out, it seems that many teams already have their new coach in mind and interview a candidate of color just to check the Rooney Rule box.

For example, did anyone really think the Cowboys weren’t going to hire former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy after his interview?

One might think, in the days of trying to find the next offensive guru or making a splash hiring the hot, new, up and coming college coach, candidates of color might have a better shot. That’s not the case.

Just this week, New England Patriots wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator Joe Judge was hired to be the next head coach of the New York Giants.

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Now, I have nothing against Judge, I’m sure he is a fine coach, but just because he worked under Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick doesn’t mean he will have the same success. Coaching trees aren’t as successful as you might think.

Also this week, the Carolina Panthers hired Baylor University’s former head coach Matt Rhule to a seven-year deal. To be honest, I had no clue who he was until a Google search and according to ESPN’s Field Yates, he has turned some not-so-great college teams around in recent years.

I have nothing against these men and hope they find success in their new ventures but in a league that the majority of it’s players are African American, shouldn’t leadership positions reflect them better?

NFL reporter Jim Trotter received this text from an assistant coach who is African American: “NFL has finally shown it's not the place for black men to advance. It's ridiculous, it's disgusting. We can sell tickets and make plays, but we can't lead.

That’s pretty damning, if you ask me and the entire tweet-thread is worth reading.

Now, I understand the Washington football team hired Ron Rivera (who is Puerto Rican and Mexican) after his tenure in Carolina, which included a Super Bowl run; but the league isn’t moving the needle forward for coaches of color.

Including Rivera, there are four head coaches of color out of 32 teams: Rivera of the Washington franchise, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Brian Flores with the Miami Dolphins. I don’t know about you, but 12.5 percent is a pretty low figure to me.

And no offense to the Browns but I doubt they make that number rise, that franchise is just a mess.

The point is, teams have been skirting the Rooney Rule for years and the NFL needs to find a way to make it work or just get rid of it because it clearly hasn’t been working.

We need less talk about diversity and more action on it.

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Kolby KickingWoman is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is Blackfeet/Gros Ventre from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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