There’s a new Black coach (and general manager) in the NFL. Although they’ve only been given the interim tag, we gotta take our wins where we can get them.
Early Wednesday morning, the Las Vegas Raiders announced the firing of Head Coach Josh McDaniels and General Manager David Ziegler, with owner Mark Davis writing in a statement, “After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave. I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best.”
The news that McDaniels and Ziegler have been fired shouldn’t be a shock to any football fans, considering the Raiders have been god-awful since their arrival. Since they were both hired in 2022, the team has a pathetic record of 9-16, most recently losing their Monday Night Football matchup with the Detroit Lions.
The more interesting news came shortly after when the Raiders announced that Linebackers Coach Antonio Pierce and Assistant General Manager Champ Kelly, two Black men, would be taking over the positions of head coach and general manager respectively (as interims).
With this hire, Pierce is only the fifth Black coach in the league currently, joining Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans), and Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins).
Before his gig with the Raiders, Pierce was a nine-year NFL veteran, playing from 2001 to 2009 with the Washington Commanders and New York Giants. He won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2007. After retiring, he became an analyst for ESPN.
In 2014, Pierce went back to football, coaching high school powerhouse Long Beach Polytechnic High School for three years.
He then moved his way up to college football, working as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator with Arizona State University from 2017-2022. He left the university due to his involvement in a recruiting scandal at the school.
Prior to the 2022 NFL season, Pierce was hired as the linebackers coach for the Raiders.
Kelly’s promotion as the new general manager makes the list of Black GMs increase to nine, with the others being on the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, and Washington Commanders.
While it’s dope to see two Black men occupy two of the more sought-after positions in the NFL, they in no way have any job security. The next nine games will serve as “prove it” performances for Pierce and Kelly.
Even if they perform admirably, it does not mean that they will have their current positions locked down. Too many times, we’ve seen Black head coaches perform well and still get replaced. Just look at Brian Flores and the job he did with the Miami Dolphins. He made that team competitive when no one expected them to and he was still fired.
More than likely, both men, especially Pierce, will serve as bridges for the team to hire a head coach the team truly wants. Hopefully, it’s another Black man but in all likelihood, it won’t be.