Super Bowl LVII was a thriller involving all the drama and storylines we’ve come to love about the NFL. We saw multiple big plays, quarterback heroics, and even got a controversial penalty that some feel should’ve been overlooked, even though it was clearly a penalty. Something else occurred in the weeks leading up to the game that feels like it should be a bigger story than it was. Philadelphia brought in long-time defensive coordinator and former Denver Broncos head coach, Vic Fangio, to help the defense prepare for their date with Patrick Mahomes.
At the time, there wasn’t much thought of the situation, but looking back, there’s something odd about this setup that we could begin to see more of if Roger Goodell’s office lets it continue. We’ve seen teams bring in former coaches as consultants many times but not in quite the same way as Fangio with the Eagles. The fact that Fangio had already accepted the DC position in Miami was another red flag. He was allowed to wait two weeks until the Super Bowl was over before officially signing with the Dolphins.
You may be wondering why or how this could become an issue. There’s this little thing called the “Rooney Rule” that many NFL franchises love to ignore in the hiring process for coaches. The Eagles reportedly expressed interest in Fangio since they knew then-DC Jonathan Gannon would likely be up for a head coaching gig. But Fangio wasn’t waiting to see what happened and agreed to join Miami at the end of January.
So, the plan to bring in Denver’s former head man was in place, and Philly would’ve had two weeks to essentially “interview” Fangio before bringing him on as the official leader of the defense. This maneuvering would have allowed the Eagles to get around the rule that they must interview a minority candidate. The positions of head coach, general manager, OC, DC, and now QB coach are all under the umbrella of the Rooney Rule. It was amended in May of 2022 to include potential QB coaches. There’s a reason why this wasn’t widely reported before the Super Bowl. It’s probably because Philly nor the NFL wanted this out in the open leading up to the big game.
Don’t be surprised when this becomes the new trendy way for organizations to hire new coaches without adhering to league “rules.” But the Rooney Rule was always going to be tough to enforce. As long as the commissioner of the league is an employee of the men (NFL owners) he’s “supposed” watch over, they’ll continue to hire whom they want, when they want, and to put on a show for the league in interviewing minority candidates knowing they’ve got no real chance at landing the job.
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It’s just another ploy by NFL owners to bypass minority coaches for head coaching jobs. Steve Wilkes did a great job in Carolina after they relieved Matt Rhule of his duties and was passed up following the season in favor of Frank Reich. After five years as OC in Kansas City, two Super Bowl wins, and three appearances, Eric Bieniemy had to settle for making a lateral move over to Washington, taking over as their new OC. Surely, he got a pay increase, but all these white coordinators get head coaching jobs after one or two years of barely doing anything. It’s just blatant at this point that owners are almost refusing to hire black/minority head coaches.
Unless you’re the Houston Texans, who are on their third black coach in as many years after hiring former San Francisco DC DeMeco Ryans. Hopefully, he’ll get a real chance to build this roster, but this is the Texans. The NFL still has a long way to go with bringing in more diverse head coaches and front-office personnel. Yes, you want the best person for the job, but when a guy like Nick Siriani gets a head coaching job and had never called plays as an OC, but that’s one of the reasons why Bieniemy can’t get hired, then it’s clear that someone (multiple people) doesn’t want him to make the rank of head coach. The same goes for Wilkes, who’s gotten a raw deal twice when white coaches in the same position would’ve been given ample opportunity.
Sure, Siriani has proven to be a good coach, but he got the opportunity to prove doubters wrong. These other men, especially black coaches, aren’t even getting a chance to prove whether they can get the job done.
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