Now that the Buffalo Bills have hired Gregg Williams as head coach over their own defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, and the Ravens' Super Bowl champion defensive coordinator, Marvin Lewis, an interesting question arises. Is there a game behind the hegemony of the white male head coach in the NFL?
The new Bills GM/President indicated right away that "hiring a minority was not a priority" in considering a head coach. Apparently he can be taken for his word. But, did he have to use the term "minority head coach?" The media seems to play this name game too by constantly emphasizing the notion of a minority or black head coach. We never hear head coaches who are white referred to as white head coaches. Why is it that coaches like Cottrell and Lewis can move up the coaching ranks and never be referred to as "black linebackers coach," "black defensive lineman coach," or even "black defensive coordinator?" But when they approach the pinnacle of their coaching profession -- NFL head coaching status -- they suddenly become black head-coaching candidates. Is this fair?
Unfortunately, being black in America still carries the stigma of secondary consideration. Perhaps that explains why NFL owners and GMs overlook coaches who are black so often for head-coaching jobs. When a NFL coach is typecast as a black head-coaching candidate, his race is considered first above his track record and achievements. That is like forcing someone to use crutches, when they can walk just fine.
So these qualified coaches who happen to be black walk into interviews limping on crutches in the eyes of NFL owners and GMs who like Donahoe conduct token interviews. The Ravens' defensive coordinator bested some of the best offensive minds in the game during the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl (e.g. Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, and Sean Payton), giving up one offensive touchdown in four games; yielding an average of four offensive points a game. His defense scored more touchdowns in the playoffs than they gave up.
If Lewis were white, he would have been just right for the Bills job. Does anybody else around here know what it takes to win a Super Bowl? But because he was black, he had to step back. What the Bills did to Cottrell was even worse. He worked his way up through their ranks, putting together solid defenses, developing young defensive stalwarts who preferred him, and was still kicked to the curb like yesterday's trash. And his treasure was handed over to another newly hired head coach who is white.
The Bills GM/President can use all of the PR rubbish that he can imagine. But the truth is Williams was hired for one obvious reason: to preserve the hegemony of the white male head coach in the NFL.