Super Bowl LVI (56) on Sunday between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams will continue to prove that the annual NFL event is America’s biggest game. This will be the first time that the Bengals, the underdog, and the Rams, will meet this season, so there is no head-to-head matchup to reference.
There are many storylines including the Bengals’ 25-year-old quarterback Joe Burrow rising to become one of the best players in the league in only his second season and the Rams’ 35-year-old QB Matthew Stafford finally getting his opportunity on the sport’s biggest stage after years playing for the lowly Detroit Lions.
But a major story the NFL wants to stay out of the center of Super Bowl discussions is the federal lawsuit filed last week by recently fired Miami Dolphins Afro Latino head coach Brian Flores against the NFL and three of its teams—the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos—alleging racial discrimination.
“We didn’t have to file a lawsuit for the world to know there’s a problem from the hiring standpoint with regard to minority coaches,” Flores said in an interview with “CBS Mornings” last week.
“The numbers speak for themselves. We filed a lawsuit so that we could create some change. And that’s important to me. I think we’re at a fork in the road right now. We’re either going to keep it the way it is, or we’re going to go in another direction and actually make some real change.”
At the time of Flores’ comments, there was only one Black head coach in the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin. Since then the Dolphins have hired Mike McDaniel, who is bi-racial, and Texans elevated Lovie Smith from their defensive coordinator to head coach, making it three out of 32 teams.
Neither the Bengals or Rams have ever had a Black or minority head coach. The Bengals do not have a Black coach under 38-year-old head coach Zac Taylor overseeing any of the three most important units of a football team—offense, defense and special teams. Being an offensive or defensive coordinator is the most common path to a head coaching position.
The Bengals do have Black position coaches. Their running backs coach is Justin Hill. This is his first year. Marion Hobby is the defensive line coach. This is his seventh year as a coach, his first with the Bengals. Secondary coach Steve Jackson is in his 18th year of coaching, his second season with Cincinnati. The Bengals also employ second year coach Troy Walters as their wide receiver coach. He was promoted after his first season as an assistant. Todd Hunt is in his third year as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
The Rams, led by 36-year-old Sean McVay, have Newark, New Jersey-native and Hofstra University alum Raheem Morris as their defensive coordinator. Morris was hired by the Rams last February after their former defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley, moved on to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
The 45-year-old Morris, a 19-year coaching veteran, was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach from 2009-2011. He was the league’s youngest head coach when he took the position. Tampa is where Morris received his first NFL coaching job in 2002 as a defensive quality control coach.
Before joining the Rams, Morris held various coaching titles with the Atlanta Falcons on both offense and defense starting in 2015 and was the defensive coordinator and interim head coach in 2020.
Thomas Brown enters his second season with the Rams in 2021 serving as not only their running backs coach, but also as the assistant head coach.