Andscape Attempts To Show NFL Is Racist, Data Shows Otherwise

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL in a class action lawsuit that alleged the NFL’s hiring processes are infused with racism back in February. 

This bombshell case turned the tables on the sports media, as well as race baiters and casual fans. Fans demanded that the NFL hire more black coaches for social justice and equality.

However, as with so many pressing issues of high importance, the majority of the people making the claims simply don’t bother to verify or support them. There was very little, if any data to support their claims. Everyone argued from emotions and logic.

As it turns out, ESPN’s blog Andscape actually did some intellectual heavy-lifting and presented a treasure trove of interesting data on NFL hires since the Rooney Rule was initiated in 2003. In order to give more opportunity to minority coaches, the Rooney Rule was amended in 2020 in an effort to incentivize those who develop and hire black coaches.

Andscape opened the article by saying that, “For the NFL’s Black coaches, the hiring landscape is bleak.” If you simply look at the comparison of white and black coaches hired in that time period, you might think that Brian Flores is onto something by saying the NFL is racist: 102 white coaches compared to only 25 black or minority.

If you dig deeper, however, it is not clear that their data explains everything. It is actually quite contrary.

This graph shows a stark pattern of black coaches’ performance over the 17-year span. Data showed they were much more likely than white coaches to lose teams to them, to fail to make it to the playoffs, or to stay in their positions for too long. Another troubling sign in an league that prizes wins and success is the fact that 17 of these 25 coaches had winning percentages below.500.

To further go against the case that Andscape tried to make (which is saying that the hiring landscape for black coaches is “bleak”), minority coaches are getting hired a second time more frequently than white coaches. Even though they don’t have a lot of experience, there are other coaching opportunities available. Blacks and other minorities are more likely than whites to be hired as assistant coaches in all categories, except for offensive coordinator.

Now yes, according to the data, black coaches are getting the “least viable jobs,” which is basically a statistic that projects how many wins a team will have in the future based on the coach’s first year win total. However, this does not mean that the NFL is racist. The NFL may actually be doing an admirable job of making sure everyone has a fair chance, regardless of how you view it.

Data is always a complicated thing to navigate. Data can be twisted to fit any narrative, depending on the way you interpret it. There is ample evidence to suggest that coaches of black or minority races are allowed fair opportunity and have the chance to be part of a team in an apparently racist NFL.

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