After the recent news that the NFL will attempt to encourage the hiring of minority coaches, there has been some pushback from the usual sources. White nationalist blogger Vox Day writes that “black coaches in the NFL have historically underperformed the average,” but provides no evidence for this claim. I knew that Hue Jackson’s recent tenure at Cleveland had been a massive failure, but there were a lot of greats who had coached for years, principally Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin. I tried a quick Google search in an attempt to find the win-loss record for black head coaches in the NFL.
But I found nothing. So I created my own list of African-American coaches and their win -loss records, omitting interim coaches who never held an official head coaching job. The results:
L. Smith 89–87
B. Flores 5–11
Total Record: 1,001–997–7
As you can see, black coaches in the NFL have a winning record. And this is despite being handed some truly awful teams. In these difficult situations it’s true that some black coaches fail, as Hue Jackson did with the Browns. Others, however, turn franchises around, as Marvin Lewis did in Cincinnati.
The Bengals were a truly awful team throughout the 1990s, managing just one 8-win season from 1991 to 2002. But after Lewis took over, the Bengals immediately improved, posting at least 8 wins in his first four years, including an 11–5 record and a playoff spot in 2005. Lewis is responsible for 7 of Cincinnati’s 17 winning seasons as a franchise. While Lewis had zero success in the playoffs, losing all 7 games, he certainly outperformed the average Bengals coach. And when Lewis was finally let go, the Bengals immediately went 2–14, tying a franchise record for losses in a season.
But what happens if I include Hispanic coaches?
T. Flores 105–90
Total Record 184–157–1
As of today the minority NFL coaching record stands at 1,185–1,154 with 8 ties. That’s probably not statistically significant, but it is a winning record, which brings me to this absolutely true claim: White, non-Hispanic coaches in the NFL have a losing record.
In his blog post, Vox Day claims that NFL owners don’t want to “saddle their teams with the disadvantage of an intellectually overmatched coaching staff.” But it looks like he had it exactly backwards: it’s white, non-Hispanic coaches who are below average. Perhaps actually consulting the record was too much of an intellectual task.