Mike Tomlin makes NFL History and Opens Doors for more Black Men
The Pittsburgh Steelers are undefeated this season and all that is thanks to the great mind of Mike Tomlin. After beating the Baltimore Ravens 28-24 on Sunday, Tomlin became the "winngest" Black Head Coach in NFL history passing Tony Dungy with 140 wins. If the Steelers
remain undefeated for the regular season, he will tie former Steelers coach (whom he succeeded when hired) Bill Cowher in career wins. He is currently 22nd on the NFL’s All Time wins list.
Tomlin passing Dungy brought his career full circle as Dungy gave Tomlin his first job in the NFL as a defensive assistant in his final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. They also are the only two Black head coaches to win a SuperBowl with Tomlin being the youngest in NFL history. When the Steelers first hired the Hampton, Va native, there were players on the team who were older than him and some he even played against during his time as a player at William and Mary. With his age and race in play, his selection was met with tons of skepticism and doubt.
The NFL currently has 70% of Black players but they only have three black head coaches; Miami’s Brian Flores; Charges Anthony Lynn and Mike Tomlin. The league hired their first Black head coach of the modern era Art Shell in 1989. The last Black head coach prior to Shell was Fitz Pollard in 1925. Since Pollard, there have been only 22 black men hired, only five have been on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coaches make more money than defensive coaches. Many Black men have been qualified to be a head coach but usually are passed up for their white counterparts. White coaches who don’t have nearly as much experience as Black coaches are given jobs and usually fired after two years when owners realize they have made a
In October 2019, Richard Lapchick, the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, gave the NFL a D+ in the area of hiring people of color for head coach positions. With Tomlin making history and the NFL finally realizing they have a problem with inclusion,
hopefully more black men will be hired as head coaches and not constantly be overlooked.