NFL Team Receives Backlash for Hiring White Coach with Little Experience

Global HR

​The National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts hired former player Jeff Saturday on Nov. 7 as its interim head coach after firing its previous coach, Frank Reich, due to poor performance.

However, Saturday’s lack of NFL coaching experience sparked widespread criticism from NFL executives, former players and the media. Several Black coaches with NFL coaching experience were not given an opportunity to interview for the position.

Jim Irsay, the Colts’ owner, defended his decision by saying that Saturday is “fully capable” of excelling despite his lack of NFL coaching experience.

We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online.

Rooney Rule Doesn’t Apply to Interim Coaching Hires

According to the NFL, Rooney Rule compliance is not required for interim hires. It’s a potentially powerful loophole, which could be used by a team to get a head start on hiring a coveted head coach who is not under contract with another team.

(NBC Sports)

‘Slap in the Face of Black Coaches’

There is no Black NFL equivalent of a Jeff Saturday. Columnist Mike Freeman explained that former players who are Black and have no coaching experience “can’t just walk off the street and get head coaching jobs, and this is what makes this situation so angering, frustrating and embarrassing.”

(USA Today)

How the NFL Blocks Black Coaches

Black NFL head coaches regularly perform about as well as White NFL head coaches yet face significant hurdles to getting and keeping their jobs, according to a report by The Washington Post. Since 1989, 191 people have been hired as head coaches, just 24 of whom have been Black.

(The Washington Post)

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Dismisses Rooney Rule-related Criticism

Colts owner Jim Irsay dismissed the criticisms that his team has received after introducing Saturday as head coach, citing his record of hiring Black head coaches in Indianapolis.

(The Indianapolis Star)

Brian Flores, the NFL and the Fight Against Workplace Racism

Former NFL coach Brian Flores sued the NFL in February for alleged racial discrimination in the hiring process and in his firing by the Miami Dolphins. The NFL has long been criticized for racial discrimination and a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in executive positions.

(SHRM Online)

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