| USA TODAY
Houston or bust: Eric Bieniemy not getting a head coaching gig would be ‘travesty’ for NFL
SportsPulse: Our NFL insiders Jarrett Bell and Mike Jones discuss the ‘travesty’ it would be for Eric Bieniemy to not get a head coaching gig and where the NFL is consistently failing at providing equitable opportunities for the league’s highest level positions.
New Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is A Football Guy, and Football Guy will always be Football Guy. Because Football Guy will hit you in the mouth. Football Guy won’t back down. Football Guy eats nuts and bolts, washes it all down with battery acid, and poops rocks because that’s what Football Guy does. Football Guy will also bite off your kneecap.
“We’re gonna kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you,” he said at his introductory news conference on Thursday. “And when you knock us down, we’re gonna get up. And on the way up, we’re going to bite a kneecap off.”
That is an actual quote.
As word of Campbell’s presser spread throughout the NFL and social media, it led to some loving what he said, and others shaking their head.
There are some teams that like Football Guy but that isn’t the point. The point is that as this hiring cycle winds down, and not a single Black head coach has been hired, and only one person of color, the Jets’ Robert Saleh (who identifies as Arab-American) has, this is one of the bleakest hiring cycles in recent NFL history.
There is one job opening remaining (the Texans) and one of the most attractive candidates, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, hasn’t been hired, and a bevy of people who aren’t as qualified have been.
To be clear, the criticism of some of the head coaching hires is less about the hires themselves, and more about who gets the opportunity, who does not, and why.
Campbell’s hiring is one of the best examples yet of what Bieniemy and other Black coaches face when it comes to getting one of these jobs. The standards for them are stratospheric and always shifting; the standards for their white counterparts are neither.
What’s often used against Bieniemy is that he doesn’t call plays, Andy Reid does. It’s been reported Campbell’s never called plays in the pros. Campbell’s title in New Orleans was assistant to the head coach and tight ends coach.
Campbell also got a six-year deal. To say it’s unusual for someone that’s never been a head coach in the NFL (or hasn’t been but has multiple college national championships under his belt) to get such a lengthy contract would be a dramatic understatement. This isn’t to say it’s never happened before, and the move is typical Lions tomfoolery, but not only are Black coaches having a difficult time getting hired, there’s little chance one in today’s harsh hiring climate in the NFL would get a six-year deal.
But one of the most striking things about this hiring cycle is there’s no way in hell, and I mean no way ever, a Black coach could talk like that, particularly as a candidate looking for a head coaching position, and still get a job.
It’s true that in 2008 Mike Singletary, as interim coach of the 49ers, once dropped his pants at halftime to make, well, some kind of point, and he was still hired by the team as its permanent coach. Yet he was a Hall of Famer with a lengthy track record in football.
Singletary was the exception. Then, and now, most Black coaches are held to much harsher standards. The harshest, in fact. They must follow an ever-changing set of standards. They cannot, in any way now, talk about eating people’s kneecaps.
It’s possible Campbell will win a Super Bowl with the Lions. The Browns made the playoffs so anything is possible.
This also isn’t as much about Campbell the man as it is what Campbell’s actions represent.
Which is Black coaches getting kneecapped.