Viewing Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce as a placeholder who checks off the diversity box isn’t a slap in the face to his talent and intellect. It’s a reminder of how NFL owners like Mark Davis do Black coaches by temporarily “promoting” them so that they can attempt to clean up the mess the unqualified white coach before them made — only to never be in contention to be brought on permanently. This is why Brian Flores is suing the league.
With the news that Davis has fired head coach Josh McDaniels, general manager Dave Ziegler, and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, the Raiders coaching staff and front office are in shambles as they’re dealing with yet another changing of the guard. Rich Bisaccia was the interim coach who took over when Jon Gruden was fired. He was not retained and McDaniels was brought in — and now he’s gone. Former GM Mike Mayock was let go after being “Gruden’s guy” and was replaced by Ziegler who is now unemployed. And now Pierce is wearing the headset in Vegas. On the good side, the league has added a much-needed Black head coach to its ranks. On the bad side, Pierce won’t be retained at the end of the season due to his race.
This isn’t a guess or a theory, it’s what the data — and racism — tell us. Before Pierce, Steve Wilks was the one who had to deal with how the interim title is a death sentence for Black coaches.
Don’t believe me? Here are some examples
Check this out from a column I wrote on this subject just last year:
2020: Raheem Morris takes over as the interim coach for the Atlanta Falcons after Dan Quinn is fired for starting the season 0-5. Morris won four games that season. The Falcons went on to hire Arthur Smith. [Ed. note: Morris is currently the Rams’ DC.]
2020: Romeo Crennel takes over for Bill O’Brien in Houston. Crennel is let go at the end of the season. It has been speculated that the Texans wanted to hire Josh McCown as their new head coach. The journeyman QB’s only coaching experience was being an assistant at the high school level. However, Brian Flores’ lawsuit put the team in a bind. To save face, the Texans hired another Black coach, Lovie Smith, at the eleventh — 11.5 really — hour. Again, these are all rumors, but given the history of that franchise, you can be certain that all of these things definitely happened but will never be verified. [Ed. note: Crennell and Smith are not currently coaching.]
2016: Before he was the head coach of the Chargers, Anthony Lynn took over for Rex Ryan in Buffalo. As you know by now, Lynn wound up in California as the Bills chose Sean McDermott to be their head coach. [Ed. note: Lynn is currently the assistant HC/RB coach in San Francisco.]
2011: Right now, Mel Tucker is the head coach at Michigan State. [Ed. note: He’s since been fired from MSU.] But, over a decade ago, he was the interim head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars after Jack Del Rio was fired. Tucker finished out the rest of the season and then he went back to being a coordinator. The Jaguars hired Mike Mularkey.
2011: Todd Bowles is currently in his first season as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but in 2011 he was “filling in” in Miami after Tony Sparano was fired. The Dolphins went on to hire Joe Philbin. He sucked. [Ed. note: Bowles is still at the helm in Tampa.]
2010: The first time Josh McDaniel was a head coach, he sucked then, too. He was fired by the Broncos and Eric Studesville was tagged as the interim. Studesville wasn’t retained as the lead man in Colorado. Denver would give that honor to John Fox. [Ed. note: Studesville is currently the associate HC/RB coach in Miami.]
Wilks wasn’t retained in Carolina, as Frank Reich — who had been fired by Indianapolis in the middle of the 2022 season — was hired. Like the ones before him, Pierce is destined to follow in their footsteps.
Between 2010 and the time I wrote about this subject last October, there had been 14 times when a white coach served under the interim tag. That list included Darrell Bevell (twice), Rich Bisaccia, Bill Callahan, Joe Philbin, Steve Spagnuolo, John Fassel, Dan Campbell, Pat Shurmur, Tony Sparano, Jim Tomsula, Doug Marrone, Mike Mularkey, and Jason Garrett. Of that group, Marrone, Mularkey, and Garrett were chosen to stay on as head coaches. However, in that same time frame, there was never a time in which a Black interim coach was replaced by another Black coach.
In 2011, Romeo Crennel was brought on after an interim stint with the Kansas City Chiefs. The same was done for Leslie Frazier in 2010 with the Minnesota Vikings. These two men are the few exceptions to the rule. And as you can see, that rarely happens.
“I had a talk with Steve, no promises were made, but if he does an incredible job, he has to be in consideration,” said Panthers owner Dave Tepper last October when Wilkes was announced as the interim. Before Wilkes could coach his first game, his boss set an impossible standard for him to live up to just to be in consideration all because Tepper messed up by hiring Matt Rhule — another white coach who wasn’t ready to succeed in the NFL. This is the plight of Black coaches in football. Antonio Pierce is just the latest chapter.
Original source here
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