NFL Opportunities: Things Have Only Gotten Better

Tom McLeanCorrespondent IJune 5, 2008

Coaching is a job reserved for those who aren't just prepared.

To be a coach, a person has to be willing to spend long hours studying, be able to teach those who thought they knew it all and understand strategy to lead the club to success.  

Notice that there was nothing said here about what color you have to be.

When the NFL made a rule that at least one African-American had to be in consideration a few years ago, I was never more proud of the NFL.

Sure, when the NFL looked like an organization that knew what it was doing on Capitol Hill during the steroids debate last year; I was impressed. And when they decided to install instant replay, so that every call could be double-checked, I was happy to be a fan.

The NFL did the right thing— made sure that there was always a chance that everyone, regardless of race and history, had a chance to be a head coach.

Head coaches are people that teach the most important aspects of the game, not the reasons an African-American can do the hardest job that professional sports has to offer.

How proud were NFL fans and pundits when two years ago, two of the greatest men in coaching history, Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, had the opportunity to be the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl?

The thought of Tony Dungy, one of the most respected men the NFL has ever seen, having his picture up next to the great coaches in history like Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, and Hank Stram, is a pleasure for any sports fan.  

So, where are sports today as far as diversity is concerned?

We have seen more African-Americans in football, but there are certainly opportunities and now a history of success.

Basketball coaches are becoming more diverse.  Baseball has great and quality coaches like Willie Randolph and Dusty Baker.  

Despite the comments by Willie Randolph on the how black coaches are viewed in the eyes of the media, I have gotten the sense that most black coaches don't see added pressure of being a black coach in a professional sport.

Dungy and Smith felt honored to be the first black coach to win, but neither were caring about that while they were making important decisions on the sidelines.

I doubt Dungy said to his coordinators before big games, "You better make the right calls.  Being black made it hard enough to get this job in the first place."  

It's time to put this topic to rest— African-Americans have chances today that they didn't 50 years ago.

We see more black players in sports today than ever before. Why should we be surprised to see them on the sidelines?

They're as qualified, they're as smart, they're as motivated, and they're as strong as any coach I have ever seen.