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The Black NFL coaches who made it to the head coaching ranks


In the NFL’s 102-year history, 26 Black men have served as head coaches. Two have died. Twenty-four remain.

This summer, 16 of those 24 sat down with The Washington Post to tell their stories and share their perspective on why the NFL’s inclusion problem persists. They have grounds for grievance, but their stories reflect the pride in the paths they took, the pressure they felt, the value of their contributions and the legacy they leave behind.

Black Out

This football season, The Washington Post is examining the NFL’s decades-long failure to equitably promote Black coaches to top jobs, despite the multibillion-dollar league being fueled by Black players.

There was hesitance, even fatigue, among those who spoke with The Post — and some who didn’t — about why Black coaches are deserving of more opportunities in the NFL. Most had to be convinced to participate, expressing doubt that this time their words would be heeded.

“Sometimes I wonder, ‘Just how much progress have we made?’ ” asked Anthony Lynn, the former Los Angeles Chargers coach.

Those who spoke did so, they said, mostly for those who never got the chance and for those who continue to be ignored. There is a determination among the ones who made it that they are no longer anomalies — and that this small fraternity of Black coaches no longer remains so exclusive.

We interviewed 16 current and former Black head coaches. These are their stories.

THE PATH

How Black coaches worked their way to the top — and what they endured along the way.

THE PRESSURE

Getting there is hard. For Black coaches, staying there is even harder.

THE VALUE

The Rooney Rule isn’t working. Here’s what Black coaches say needs to happen for team owners to see them as leaders.

THE LEGACY

For all the pain they’ve endured, Black coaches — even those who never got a fair shake — take pride in making it to the mountaintop.

About this story

Additional reporting by Jerry Brewer, Candace Buckner and Dave Sheinin. Additional video filming by Erin Patrick O’Connor, Alice Li, Jayne Orenstein, Jorge Ribas, Brandon Watson, Nate Peracciny, Gabrielle Joseph, Max Toomey, Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman, Jack Mayer, Julian Valdivieso, Jeffrey McWhorter, Jamal Martin, Meagan Laboy, Anto Tavitian, Christopher Zuppa and Boyzell Hosey. Research by Alice Crites. Editing by Joe Tone. Copy editing by Michael Petre. Photo editing by Toni L. Sandys. Video editing by Jayne Orenstein, Joshua Carroll, Jorge Ribas and Justin Scuiletti. Design and development by Brianna Schroer and Joe Fox. Design editing by Virginia Singarayar and Matt Callahan. Logo design by Chloe Meister. Project management by Wendy Galietta.



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