President Joe Biden lamented the lack of Black coaches in the NFL during a Super Bowl halftime interview Sunday evening, urging teams to emphasize diversity in their hiring process. “You’ve got to go out and look — there’s innumerous incredibly qualified African American coaches out there,” Biden told Westwood One during an interview that aired during halftime of the Super Bowl.
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The President went on to reference Vice President Kamala Harris — the nation’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president — as he sought to explain the importance of representation in powerful positions.
“I don’t know how many, when I picked a Black woman to be vice president, I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of little girls just said, ‘I can do that.’ … It matters, it matters,” the President said. “And I don’t understand why they cannot find, because they exist, so many African American coaches that are qualified, that should be in the pros in my view.”
The NFL has long been criticized for a lack of diversity among top coaching and management positions. In 2003, the league adopted a policy called the Rooney Rule, requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview “at least one or more diverse candidates” — but the policy hasn’t yielded a diverse set of head coaches. Only two people of color were hired to head coaching positions in the NFL this cycle.
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Notably, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — who won the Super Bowl Sunday — have among the most diverse coaching staffs across the NFL. All three of the team’s coordinators — defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong — are Black. So is assistant head coach and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin.
The Buccaneers are also the only team that has two full-time assistant coaches that are women — assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar. Additionally, Tampa Bay’s front office includes Jacqueline Davidson, the team’s director of football research, and Carly Helfand, a scouting assistant.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of anything like this,” Leftwich said in a session with reporters in the lead up to the Super Bowl.
“This is unique. This is different. This is not the norm. This is not the norm of how this league and how the coaching staff looks across the league.”