The Rise of Black Coaches in the NFL: It Started With Tony Dungy

Earl BedfordContributor IFebruary 5, 2010

In keeping with the theme of Black History Month, history will be made yet again if the Indianapolis Colts win the Super Bowl.

Lost in the media hype of Dwight Freeney's ruptured tendon in his ankle and Rex Ryan's middle finger salute stating that the Jets are still number one, Jim Caldwell will become the third African American head coach to win a Super Bowl in the past 4 years in the National Football League.

Tony Dungy, Mike Tomlin and maybe Jim Caldwell? Forty years ago I would have never envisioned one African American head coach in the NFL, not alone 4 to make it to the big game. (Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears lost to the Colts in Super Bowl 41).

Caldwell, Tomlin and Smith all coached for Dungy. These coaches are of great integrity, values and Christian men of faith who lead by example not only for their teams, but for their organizations as well.

While growing up in Chicago, it was almost unheard of an African American quarterback leading an NFL squad. When I saw Marlon Briscoe, James Harris and Jim Gilliam quarterback their teams in the late 1960's early 1970's, I wondered to myself "would this trend last long" having an African American Quarterback in the NFL? Looking at the rosters of the 32 teams today, there are no less than 15 with my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers having three. (Byron Leftwich, Josh Johnson and Josh Freeman)

Over the past year we have also seen the youngest coach in the NFL, and another Dungy prodigy hire (Raheem Morris), bring the total number of African American coaches to five. Out of those five, four coached for Dungy. (Only Mike Singletary did not get his tutelage from Dungy) Think about it, three out of the last four years Tony Dungy or one of his understudies have been the head coach in a Super Bowl!

For all the Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick's, Donte Stallworth's, you have a Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Jim Caldwell who only asked for the opportunity to show the world what they have to offer doing the same things their contemporary’s have done throughout the history of the NFL.

Stranger things have happened, but for this game I'm rooting for history.


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