One of the NFL’s longest-tenured head coaches is speaking up.
With the league still feeling the shockwaves from allegations spelled out in a lawsuit filed by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, a closed-door forum at last month’s annual league meetings presented an opportunity for owners and team staff members to address growing inequities.
“I was proud that owners were willing to listen to and interject their thoughts on the whole situation,” Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters in a Zoom press conference on Monday, as his team began two weeks of voluntary virtual meetings.
“I took that as a real positive that it was being discussed — and the league’s willing to move forward on some things,” he added.
Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was one of many coaches cited in Flores’ complaint, described as a prime example of the league’s Black coaches having to work twice as hard for half of the opportunities.
“Without question, Mr. Bieniemy has the pedigree, track record and reputation to make him a sought-after head coach,” stated the complaint.
”However, despite being interviewed for approximately 20 vacant positions over the last five years, no team has extended Mr. Bieniemy an offer. During this time, numerous white candidates who are clearly less qualified have taken over the head coach duties for numerous NFL teams.”
Despite being Kansas City’s offensive coordinator since 2018 — and with the team never averaging less than 28.2 points per game in that span — Bieniemy is returning to Reid’s staff for 2022 after striking out on a head coaching job for the third straight cycle.
“We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change,” league commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a statement following Flores’ allegations.
“However we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable.”
After pledging to an independent review of league hiring practices, the NFL announced the formation of a new Diversity Advisory Committee on March 28. The six-member group is charged with “evaluating club diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and initiatives.”
“It’s not all about money,” said Reid. “It’s more about actions than money. You’ve always heard that in this business it is easy to give someone more money. And that’s a different thing to get down and show and do.”
According to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh joined Reid in “advocating for more progress diversifying NFL coaching” during March’s closed-door meeting.
“The owners had great coaching points for us, as coaches — and we had, what we thought were decent and good coaching points for the owners,” said Reid of the dialogue.
“And they were willing to listen, which is great,” added Reid. “There’s some good that came out of that meeting — and right now, that’s all you can ask for.”