Lack of Minority Coaches and GMs in NFL Has More to Do With Buddy System Than Racism


When I worked in the corporate environment,  promotions would come  up and 90% of the time they didn’t go to the most qualified person.

They went to the person who was closest to the person doing the hiring. One time a job was given to the daughter-in-law of the boss’ nephew (we didn’t find that out until months later).

The minorities at the job quickly said it was racism, but I looked at it from another perspective. In life, people normally trust people who they are more comfortable around.

When you have to move, who do you call? Your best friend. The reason you do that is your trust him or her around your stuff. Your friends, associates, colleagues and peers are normally a select ground of people who you trust with major decisions.

NFL owners are older millionaires and in some cases billionaire white men. Their majority of interaction with minorities has been as workers (or players in this case), not as decision makers. So, when it comes time to handing over their reins to their billion dollar baby they rarely will go outside of the box.

Does that make them racist? Probably not, but to think they don’t believe some of the stereotypes about minorities in decision-making positions would be naïve.

When a 90-year-old owner is looking at Ray Horton can he separate some of the long-standing misconceptions about minorities and African-Americans that he grew up around?  Can he see past the braids and just see an excellent head coaching candidate?

It shouldn’t matter what Horton’s hair looks like, how he talks or his race.  In an ideal world the only thing that should matter is his qualifications. But, if you haven’t figured it out by now we don’t live in an ideal world.

Ray Horton

Logically owners probably know whatever stereotypes they have aren’t true, but are they worried about public perception or is it something deeper?  See, it isn’t just about the owner, it is about the media and fans as well.  These stereotypes aren’t just in the NFL, they are in our entire country.

You have to understand most of the men who own NFL teams are over 60 years old. When they were children and teenagers minorities couldn’t even drink the same water as them. They might not have a problem letting them run around on the field making money for them, but it is totally different putting them on a peer level with them.  It is more ignorance and fear than racism.

It is very difficult when you own a business to tell someone who they should or shouldn’t hire. No one tells me who I should have writing for the site or covering assignments for BSO. They don’t pay my bills, so they don’t have a say.  If I fail I want it to be because of the decisions I made, not what I was forced to do.

So, you can’t tell the Cardinals or Browns or Eagles they have to hire a minority coach. The Rooney Rule won’t change anything, you can force them to interview, but you can’t force them to hire.

Until the NFL gets younger owners who are more cultured and diverse nothing is going to change, because in the end they are always going to hire the guy they see themselves playing golf with, not the one holding the bag.

2 thoughts on “Lack of Minority Coaches and GMs in NFL Has More to Do With Buddy System Than Racism

  • Painfully true…

    Unfortunately, many people will hide their prejudice behind a multitude of excuses, code-words, etc.

  • Good article Rob.

Comments are closed.