The number of Black head coaches in the NFL increased by one Thursday (Mar.31) after Todd Bowles became the captain of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ship.
In a move that took many by surprise, Bruce Arians announced that he was stepping down as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday (Mar.30) and taking a job in the franchise’s front office. The search for his replacement didn’t take long. The team announced the following day that Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would be taking over as head coach, so it won’t be a significant transition since he already knows the system.
Bowles does have head coaching experience in the NFL. He was the coach for New York Jets, which is nothing to brag about because the Jets were (still) a terrible team during his tenure. That’s not entirely his fault because he didn’t have much to work with, but when you’re the head coach of a professional sports team, the head coach is always first to go. But when it comes to being a defensive coordinator, Bowles is regarded as one of the best, and he is taking over a pretty solid team that does have Tom Brady now returning as its starting quarterback.
After accepting the role, Bowles becomes the fourth Black coach in the entire league, joining Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Houston’s Lovie Smith, and Miami’s Mike McDaniel, who notes he is bi-racial (still Black). Bowles also becomes the fourth Black head coach in the team’s 46-year history and the 12th person to hold the position. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that’s two more Black head coaches than any other team in the NFL, which is sad and highlights the NFL’s terrible track record of hiring Black head coaches in a league that features predominantly Black players.
Bowles name will join the ranks of Tony Dungy, who helped turn the franchise into a more respectable one before his hard work was eventually handed over to Jon Gruden by the Bucs. Raheem Morris became the franchises’ second Black head coach and is credited with having the best season turnaround in franchise history during his two-season tenure. Current Texans head coach, Lovie Smith, who got his start under Tony Dungy, returned to the team in 2014 to become its third Black head coach.
While this isn’t the significant improvement many have been calling for when it comes to NFL teams hiring Black coaches, it’s a start. The Tampa Bay Buccanneers should be recognized as one of the only franchises with a good history of Black coaches calling the shots. Still, the league has a long way to go, and the “Rooney Rule,” which was put in place to remedy the situation but has yet to produce and has since been updated to close a loophole to know include women.
Congrats to Coach Bowles. We are intrigued to see if he can lead the Buccaneers back to the promised land.
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