Geno Smith Blasts NFL Over Minority Hiring Practices

The NFL is touting a “major milestone” in the league, as there are now a record-high nine minority head coaches after the Carolina Panthers hired former Seattle Seahawks coach and Mexican American Dave Canales. However, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is still not impressed.

“It’s 2024 and we are talking about minorities,” Smith said, per the Associated Press. “So, it’s not encouraging. I think we have to get away from that talk and let people be people. But that’s another topic right there.”

Smith’s comments come as the NFL is making strides to improve its track record in hiring minority head coaches, but the percentage of these coaches in high-ranking positions is still wildly different than the racial makeup of the league.

NFL Minority Coaches & Players

The press asked Geno Smith about the growing number of minority head coaches after his former quarterbacks coach, Dave Canales, becomes the ninth minority head coach in the NFL heading into 2024.

In addition to Canales, the Atlanta Falcons Raheem Morris and Las Vegas Raiders’ Antonio Pierce, and New England Patriots Jerod Mayo all got head jobs this hiring cycle. These four join the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles, Houston Texans’ DeMeco Ryans, Miami Dolphins Mike McDaniel, and New York Jets’ Robert Saleh.

One minority head coach, the Washington Commanders’ Ron Rivers, did lose his job at the end of this season.

Nine out of 32 coaches make 21.1% of head coaches minorities and 18.7% Black (Morris, Pierce, Mayo, Tomlin, Bowles, Ryans). While that does represent progress, it is still wildly below the NFL’s makeup, which features 66.7% minority and 53.5% Black players, according to the 2023 racial and gender report card from the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

Rivera agrees with Smith that, while there is progress on this front, the league needs to get to a point where race isn’t even a part of the conversation.

“What is happening is it is becoming more mainstream,” Rivera said. “There are enough good coaches now where we can start saying, ‘Hey, let’s just call everybody a head coach, not necessarily minority head coach.’”

Will Geno Smith & the Seahawks Have a Minority Coach Next Season?

As January 2024 comes to an end, there are only two vacant head coaching positions left, with the Seahawks and the Commanders’ jobs still unfilled.

There are still several top head coaching candidates, too, who happen to be minorities. This includes Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

At this point, though, the Seahawks seem like the only team that could possibly hire one of these candidates. By most accounts, the Commanders are waiting until the Lions’ postseason run ends to hire their offensive coordinator, Ben Johnson.

John Schneider is still conducting his head coach search, and it seems like the Seahawks general manager is still truly undecided about who will get the job. That said, none of the leading candidates — Dan Quinn, Mike Vrabel, Mike Macdonald — are minority coaches.

Even if the NFL minority head coach total tops out at nine this season, underrepresented coaches could make major gains at coordinator positions. Among the minority candidates interviewing for open coordinator positions around the league are hot names like Thomas Brown, Anthony Weaver, Marcus Brady, Chris Harris, Terrell Williams, and Tem Lukabu.

Any of these coaches who get coordinator jobs will join former Buffalo Bills assistant head coach/defensive line coach Eric Washington, who the Chicago Bears hired as defensive coordinator this offseason.

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