Two more games remain in the 2016 NFL Season and the coaching carousel and firing squad has already ensued. The next batch of can’t miss coordinators are on team’s in desperate need of direction, short list. But before NFL teams can hire the guy they want for the job, a minority must first be ‘interviewed’. Last season the Philadelphia Eagles interviewed Duce Staley before the organization hired the guy they wanted all alone. The interview was met with league wide criticism because Staley was never considered a viable HC candidate in league circles.
A rule which once provided opportunities to minorities has become a sham that has been reduced to a box organizations check before proceeding with business as usual. Last season Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn turned down multiple HC interviews because he believed he was merely being interviewed to satisfy the Rooney quota. With another season nearly in the books the usual suspects of minority candidates will be mentioned for interviews: Cleveland Browns DC Ray Horton, Detroit Lions DC Teryl Austin, Arizona Cardinals OC Harold Goodwin, and Miami Dolphins DC Vance Joseph.
But I wonder, despite their impressive resumes will any of the gentlemen mentioned have an introductory press conference announcing them as the new head coach of your favorite team? Although I am sure there are several viable white HC candidates out there like the Atlanta Falcons Kyle Shanahan, and the Detroit Lions Jim Bob Cooter. But before HC retreads like Mike Smith, Josh McDaniels, Jon Gruden, Tom Coughlin and Jim Schwartz get their second and third tries can a qualified minority HC get one shot?
What McDaniels has done with a Gronk-less the New England Patriots squad is nothing short of remarkable but the Belichick coach tree has not produced any winners last I checked (O’Brien, Crennel, Mangini). Shanahan offensive genius may be unrivaled, but the success Goodwin has had in the desert has largely gone ignored. Before the bidding war for a coach who missed the playoffs 4 of the 6 seasons that Gruden was in Tampa can Vance Joseph who turned the Dolphins defense into a playoff force get some consideration?
In a few short months it will be interview season in the NFL, some candidates will be interviewed simply based on their merit while others will be interviewed to check a box. Lynn doubted the sincerity of a few front offices, will others do the same?
I have had my fare share of ‘token’ interviews and each time my optimism was met with a harsh dose of reality. It took Lynn a lot of courage to say no to being the token. Will Goodwin, Joseph, and others take that risk even if it’s the opportunity of a lifetime? Token anyone? Stay tuned…I know I will.