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CHRIS MOORE — Smith, Beiniemy show how NFL climbs are not all equal

The Monday after the close of the National Football League’s regular season is known as Black Monday, due to the amount of coaches and coaching staffs that are terminated.

However, the ensuing hiring process is often anything but Black.

As of Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. day, the NFL, of which approximately 70 percent of its players are black, has three non-white head coaches.

The Pittsburg Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Miami Dolphins’ Brian Flores and the Washington Football Team’s Ron Rivera are the league’s only minority head coaches.

In the same week that the NFL’s official twitter account sends a post with an MLK quote, Kansas City Chief’s offensive coordinator Eric Beiniemy, who has led the league’s most explosive and efficient offense over the last two years, has not been offered a head coaching gig, despite multiple interviews.

Head coaching jobs typically go to coordinators whose units prosper, as has been the case with Beiniemy.

Perhaps the dearth of minority head coaches does not begin at the interviewing process and maybe Beiniemy’s case shouldn’t be the one highlighted when looking at a systemic issue. In Atlanta, the Falcons hired former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

Smith was well deserving of the position. He took an underperforming Titans offense to one of the most feared in the league, featuring a 2,000-yard running back, 1,000-yard receiver and one of the game’s most efficient passers.

While Smith is hard working and willing to climb the ladder, his ladder was shorter than those around him.

Smith started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at North Carolina University. After one year, Smith was named the defensive quality control coach for the Washington Football Team.

Some might find the large jump from one year as a graduate assistant to on an NFL coaching staff odd until we realize Smith is the son of Fred Smith, founder of FedEx. There is a building on UNC’s campus named after the company after a $5 million donation in 2006, which was the year Arthur Smith was the graduate assistant.

Fred Smith is also minority owner for the Washington Football Team, which plays on, you guessed it, FedEx field.

It is not that Smith is not qualified to do the job. I am a Titans fan and really like Smith. He has done wonders and is a fantastic play caller. And he got a head start that very few get. Both can be true. Meanwhile people are loading up on the excuses as to why Beiniemy is not a head coach. There is always an excuse.

Even if he does get a head coaching gig, he would bring the total number of minority head coaches to four in a league where white people are outnumbered nearly 4-1.

While some offer quotes from MLK nearly 53 years after his murder, people still scoff at the idea that a team would be required to interview a minority candidate before hiring a head coach. The rule, which saves owners and general managers from themselves, should be expanded for hiring general managers, presidents of operations and coordinators.

 

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.

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