This season the NFL has been the cynosure for controversy. Will there soon be another controversy to add to the never-ending list? In particular, is the NFL doing enough to hire and retain African-Americans on and off the field? The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) recently released their annual NFL Racial and Gender Report Card, highlighting key statistics pertaining to race/culture, hiring practices and the league’s inclusion efforts. Key findings and areas where the NFL still needs improvement:
Currently there are no African-American NFL franchise owners. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only NFL franchise to have a majority owner of color. Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-born American businessman, joined NFL ownership in 2012.
There are currently four African-American head coaches: Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Jim Caldwell (Detroit Lions), Lovie Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals). African-American coaches comprise 13% of all coaching positions in the NFL. Despite the consistently low number of African-American head coaches, 9 out of the last 15 Super Bowl teams had either an African-American head coach or General Manager.
NFL General Managers:
This season the number of African-American General Managers increased to 7 from 6 in 2013.The following teams have African-American General Managers: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants and Houston Texans. Although African-American General Managers only comprise 24% of all General Manager positions in the NFL, this is the highest number of African-American General Managers the NFL has ever seen.
African-American players currently comprise 67.3% of the league’s players. It is the highest percentage of African-American players since the 2003 season. The remaining racial breakdown of NFL players is: 31% Caucasian, .7% Asian/Pacific Islander, .6% Latinos and 2% International and Other. The key positions dominated by African-American players are Cornerback (97% of NFL Cornerbacks are African-American) and Wide Receivers (84% of NFL Wide Receivers are African-American). On the other hand, the key positions dominated by Caucasian players are Quarterback (82%) and Center (84%). Special teams are also primarily comprised of Caucasian players (97% in 2013 and 98% in 2012.
Lastly, it is also worth mentioning that there are very few Black head trainers. The numbers have decreased incrementally over the past five years. In 2010 there were 10 African-American head trainers and as of today, there are only 4. Also, there are still very few Black Vice Presidents, Senior Administrators and Team Physicians within the league.
Jaia Thomas is a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment attorney. You can follow her on Twitter at: @jaiathomaslaw.