A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

African American Coaches in Playoffs
By Nana Nkweti

One of the most noteworthy moments in Black history will take place on a football field. Two African-American head coaches- Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy- will lead their teams, the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts respectively, to Super Bowl XLI on February 4th. Blacks dominate the field as players, making up 70% of theNational Football League but accounted for just 21% of the top coaches--seven head coaches out of thirty-two last season.

In 1921, one year after the NFL'ss inception, Fritz Pollard served as both player and coach. But for a time unwritten quotas set in that kept black players off recruitment rosters let alone calling the shots as coaches. In 1946, player Kenny Washington broke through barriers to sign with the Rams. But it was not till 1989 that another black head coach stepped into the arena. Currently, NFL owners are obliged by league rules to interview qualified minority candidates. And now with the ascension of two of those minorities to the big game we'll be sure to see more- rule or no rule. Next Sunday the nation will be glued to their television sets: some to watch Prince get funky at halftime, some to see million dollar beer ads but black America will be watching in the knowledge that whoever wins, black hands will be triumphantly hold up the Lombardi trophy.

See our events calendar for Black History Month happenings around the nation.