The NFL has made strides to hire minorities as head coaches across the league, going so far as to incentivize teams with draft picks for doing so.
But that has not led to black Kansas City Chiefs Eric Bieniemy offensive coordinator getting hired. To those obsessed with race this is a problem.
For the past five years, Bieniemy has been the architect of one of the most lethal offenses in the NFL. Over the past five seasons, the Chiefs have not finished lower than sixth in the league in total offense, and they have made the playoffs each year, advanced to three AFC Championship Games, and played in two Super Bowls (winning one). Despite the impressive resume, Bieniemy has yet to earn a head coaching gig.
For Jason Reid, a writer at Andscape, there is only one possible explanation for why that hasn’t happened yet: Bieniemy is black.
“On Twitter and Internet message boards, theories abound as to why Bieniemy hasn’t reached the top rung of the coaching ladder as many other onetime [Andy] Reid assistants – including Bieniemy’s two white predecessors in the Chiefs’ O-coordinator role – have throughout the years …Of course, the answer as to why Bieniemy’s career has stagnated may be as obvious as it is reprehensible: He’s Black,” Reid wrote.
This is the only acceptable theory for anyone working at Andscape, and accusing the NFL of somehow preventing him from getting a head coaching job because he is black is par for the course. But is it true?
The NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003, which rewards teams that interview and/or hire minority coaches for vacant positions. The NFL attempted to level the playing field to give all candidates an equal opportunity for vacant positions, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee an equal outcome.
Furthermore, as I wrote in a piece published around the time that Brian Flores was carrying out his lawsuit in March, Andscape actually published an article that suggested the NFL is not as racist in its hiring practices as everyone might think. Data is subjective and can be twisted to fit any narrative, but the fact remains that the data shows the league might be more inclusive than people give it credit for.
Plus, identifying the reasons for who gets hired and who doesn’t in the never-ending NFL coaching carousel is never an exact science. Sometimes, it’s simply about connections, doors being opened, and a host of other factors that have nothing to do with a man’s skin color or the supposed bias of those hiring for jobs.
“In reality it’s tough,” Bieniemy said to reporters in June. “But I don’t let that keep me from doing what I do. I’m still alive, I’m breathing, and I have an opportunity to work for a championship team. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t want any pity. This is who I am. I’m going to keep pushing, keep knocking, because when it’s all said and done with, I know who I am and I am comfortable with the person I’m striving to be.”
So if Andscape showed through it’s own study in the spring that the NFL might not be as racist as some think, and if Bieniemy is comfortable where he’s at and doesn’t have a head coaching job because of factors that might be hard to quantify, what exactly is the problem here?
The answer, of course, is that there is none. Andscape probably just needed a “story” to put on their website.
Jason Whitlock, host of The Blaze, provided excellent commentary on the situation regarding how the Chiefs and the NFL have handled Bieniemy's situation in this video.