The NFL head-coaching carousel stopped spinning Thursday night with Bruce Arians' hiring by the Arizona Cardinals. The selection is great news for an NFL lifer like Arians, but it might bring home a troubling statistic for African-American coaches around the league.
None of the eight new NFL head coaches is African-American. The number of African-American head coaches in the NFL will drop from five to three in 2012 after Lovie Smith and Romeo Crennel lost their jobs.
The trend is similar in NFL front offices. Five general manager positions have been filled, all by white men. The New York Jets' GM job, which still is open, is expected to go to John Idzik. It's unclear who will become the Cleveland Browns' next GM.
USA Today's Mike Garafolo said he "took the pulse" of minority head coaches and executives Thursday night. "Furious" was a good way to describe their reaction, he wrote on Twitter.
Discussions of race always are heated in this country, but there's no denying football is a predominantly African-American sport that has taken a step back in hiring minorities as head coaches and in the front office. Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports recently wrote two excellent pieces on the issue, pointing out that Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is the only African-American offensive play-caller in the league. (And Caldwell just got that position in December.)
"This is a legitimate topic of discussion among the rank-and-file and, especially, among African-American coaches and front-office executives who are frustrated with the current state of affairs," Silver wrote.
This is a dilemma without easy solutions, but it's a topic not far from the minds of NFL players, coaches and others around the league. A common response by fans, that we live in a post-racial world, is laughable. The NFL's Rooney Rule, to its credit, recognizes otherwise. Perhaps more needs to be done.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.