All-time list of all black head coaches in the NFL and the teams they managed

All-time list of all black head coaches in the NFL and the teams they managed

The NFL is undoubtedly one of the most significant sports leagues globally and likely the biggest league in the USA. Millions of Americans follow the sport religiously over the NFL season, and one thing that may stand out to fans is the lack of diversity in the managerial positions. Here, we will take a deeper look into just how many black head coaches have been in the NFL and which teams they managed.

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First black NFL coach
Paul Tagliabue and Art Shell during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021. Photo: Ron Schwane-Pool
Source: Getty Images

As you may already know, black head coaches are a minority in the NFL's top positions. Unfortunately, the managerial positions are not as diverse as the teams they spearhead, and the inclusivity of this demographic has been developing at a snail’s pace. However, since the first black NFL coach, Art Shell, who changed history in 1989, things slowly changed.

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How many black head coaches are in the NFL?

As of 2022, there are only five known head coaches of colour in the league, a noticeably minute amount compared with caucasian men who have the same title. Although Art Shell was the first milestone selection that helped shape the league's future, it is still clear that more work needs to be done to create inclusivity in the league. In addition, the number of black head coaches in the NFL during 2020 was also underwhelming, with just three black head coaches.

What NFL teams have a black head coach?

In reality, only five teams are currently taking a step toward inclusivity by choosing minority coaches; being the Dolphins, the Houston Texans, the Washington Commanders, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, there have been some impeccable black head coaches in the league throughout its inception. Here is our top ten list of just some of those who helped change the course of history.

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10. Dennis Green (Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals)

Black NFL head coaches
Dennis Green of the Arizona Cardinals got passionate during a game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium in 2005. Photo: Ezra Shaw
Source: Getty Images

Fan favourite Dennis Green had an outstanding career as a coach, leading the Minnesota Vikings from 1992 to 2001 and again taking charge of another NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals, from 2004 to 2006. Being the first black coach who has not previously played in the league, he has broken down barriers that held others back.

9. Frederick Pollard (Akron Pros, Milwaukee Badgers, Hammond Pros, Providence Steam Roller)

What NFL teams have a black head coach?
Frederick Pollard is an iconic name in the NFL league as the player broke historical barriers. Photo: NBC News
Source: UGC

A stalwart in the sport, Frederick Pollard made history when he became the first black head school of the league in 1921, a monumental occasion. Besides spearheading the Pros/Indians, the sporting icon also sporadically took charge of the Milwaukee Badgers, Hammond Pros, and Providence Steam Roller.

8. Romeo Crennel (Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans)

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How many black assistant coaches in the NFL
Houston Texans kicker Randy Bullock and Romeo Crennel bond during the preseason NFL matchup between Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers. Photo: Robert Chambliss
Source: Getty Images

Romeo Crennel had an impactful career in football within the few years he was directly involved. Crennel led the charge of the Cleveland Browns from 2005 to 2008 and then took on the same role at the Houston Texans for one season in 2020. He won five Superbowls and is now the Texans' senior advisor for Football Performance.

7. Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons)

Which NFL team has the most black coaches
Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game against the Tennessee Titans in November 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Wesley Hitt
Source: Getty Images

Raheem Morris had a reasonably long career compared to some of his counterparts on this list. Morris was the top dog at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 until 2011 and was also the interim head coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020.

6. Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns)

Current NFL head coaches
Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a touchdown with Leslie Frazier during a game against the Detroit Lions. Photo: Adam Bettcher
Source: Getty Images

Leslie Frazier is another figure that had a long withstanding career in the NFL. Frazier became a head coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2011 to 2013. After initially joining the Buffalo Bills in 2017 as a defensive coordinator, he was eventually promoted to head coach in 2020. In between his head coaching gigs, he was an assistant coach to others in the league and the teams he ultimately came to lead.

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5. Jim Caldwell (Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions)

How many black head coaches in the NFL
Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions watches on during a game against the Green Bay Packers in December 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Gregory Shamus
Source: Getty Images

Jim Caldwell led the Indianapolis Colts from 2009 to 2011, not long after assuming the same position at Detroit Lions from 2014 to 2017. Caldwell was used as an example by ex Miami Dolphins head honcho Brian Flores in a lawsuit he filed against the league, highlighting Caldwell's firing despite his success in the team as to how the institution discriminates against individuals of colour.

4. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins)

how many black head coaches in the NFL in 2021
Brian Flores liaises with an official during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in January 2022. Photo: Wesley Hitt
Source: Getty Images

Flores has been instrumental in changing the game, literally. The ex Miami Dolphins leader was in charge of the team for three years, from 2019 until 2021, all through the season up until he was fired the same year. He has since filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams in specific.

3. Art Shell (LA Raiders/Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons)

Which NFL team has the most black coaches
Art Shell walks the Red Carpet at the 2017 NFL Honors in Houston, Texas. Photo: Rich Graessle
Source: Getty Images

No list of iconic black coaches of the NFL would be complete without Art Shell. Shell broke a long dry streak of a lack of diversity in the sport's league by becoming the first black coach since the early 1900s (around the 1920s). His impressive reign began in 1988 and ended in 1994 abruptly. Then, he finally returned to the Raiders as head honcho in 2006 before retiring in 2007.

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2. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans)

current NFL head coaches
Lovie Smith reacts during a Houston Texans game against the New England Patriots. Photo: Bob Levey
Source: Getty Images

The second and only other black head coach chosen for the latest season is Lovie Smith, the results-driven man in charge of the Houston Texans. Smith was initially the head coach at the University of Illinois from 2016 to 2020 and finally joined the Texans in 2021 as a defensive coordinator. Smith now leads the team of 2022 as the head coach.

1. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers)

black NFL head coaches
Mike Tomlin grins during the 2021 NFL preseason Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys. Photo: Emilee Chinn
Source: Getty Images

One of the most iconic black NFL head coaches is Mike Tomlin. Tomlin is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been doing a stellar job since he joined them in January 2007 and continues to do so as of April 2022. The impressive list of achievements the team has gathered since his reign includes seven AFC North titles, getting his team to the playoffs nine times (resulting in two trips to the Super Bowl XLIII and XLV) and winning various home games.

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Other black head coaches in the NFL

The above-mentioned coaches may be considered some of the most impactful black head coaches, but they are not the only ones in the history of the league. Here are others that helped bring change to the inclusivity issue within the NFL:

  • Ray Rhodes (Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers)
  • Tony Dungy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts)
  • Herman Edwards (New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Terry Robiskie (Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns)
  • Emmitt Thomas (Atlanta Falcons)
  • Mike Singletary (San Francisco 49ers)
  • Perry Fewell (Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers)
  • Eric Studesville (Denver Broncos)
  • Mel Tucker (Jacksonville Jaguars, Michigan State Spartans)
  • Todd Bowles (Miami Dolphins, New York Jets)
  • Hue Jackson (Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns)
  • Anthony Lynn (Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers)
  • Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos)

The question of how many black head coaches in the NFL have changed the exclusive nature of the sport can be answered quite simply: every one of them. All of the black head coaches in the history of the NFL played an essential role in that necessary, long-overdue change that needs to occur in the otherwise majority-dominated league.

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Source: Briefly News

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