Bill Belichick (276579)
Credit: Contributed

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity and equality of job opportunity in the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of National Football League, awarded a “game ball” to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick last Thursday, at the NFL Combine for his efforts in creating opportunities for minorities.

In a league in which roughly 70 percent of the players are Black, but only three Black men are head coaches, there is an urgent need for NFL owners and executives to provide equal pathways for Black assistants to ascend to head coaching openings. Five Black head coaches were fired either during or after last season and only one was hired—Brownsville, Brooklyn native Brian Flores, who previously served as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator.

Flores, who is of Honduran descent, was named head coach of the Miami Dolphins one day after the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII with a masterful defensive performance engineered by him and Belichick. The 38-year-old graduate of Poly Prep in Park Slope, who went on to play linebacker for Boston College, worked under Belichick for 15 years with the Patriots and was part of four Super Bowl winning teams.

Belichick wasn’t on hand to accept the award as he arrived at the Combine the following day, but sent a video message expressing his appreciation and credited Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown with helping to raise his consciousness.

“I go back to my days at Cleveland, when I learned so much from Jim Brown about diversity and about how to relate and connect to people, both players and coaches as they came up through football,” said Belichick. “He took me back to his days in the ’60s with Coach [Paul] Brown and his time with the Cleveland Browns, and I learned so much from him during those five years I was with the Browns. That has continued to be part of our lifelong friendship.”