Yahoo wrote a big story about Bruce Arians and his historic staff with this year's Tampa Bay Buccaneers outfit. It's the first in NFL history where the top four assistants -- offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin -- all happen to be black.
There were two quotes I found particularly relevant in the story. The first is from Goodwin, who speaks frankly to young black coaches in a way that only a fellow black coach can.
“Here’s what I tell black coaches — and, unfortunately, it’s just part of the deal — ‘All you need is one,’ ” Goodwin said. “And what I mean by that is: You need one white guy in your corner who has the power or leverage.”
No one gets anywhere alone, and anyone who's climbed a professional ladder has had a champion and a mentor that helped them get there. Unfortunately, black coaches are required to have a white coach among their roster of champions, while a similar piece of advice would never be made to a white coach.
And here's an important reason why it's so crucial to get more black coaches in coordinator and head coaching positions -- most of the players happen to be black, at least at the highest levels of the game.
Here's Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to Yahoo on playing for a black coordinator in Leftwich:
“I love it. Because it’s not only credibility, it’s relatability and having someone in that position who’s not only played in B.A.’s system but has experience of being an African-American quarterback and who created a better path for me.
“I don’t think you see that often in the NFL at all. I think when you have a coach that looks like you, you’re probably more apt and open to listen, more apt to apply what they’re coaching you.”
Numerous studies say that representation -- i.e., being led by people of a similar ethnicity -- a determining factor for student success in the school system, and it stands to reason that would translate to athletics, even professional football.
Black coaches cannot unlock doors they don't have keys to, it's incumbent upon white coaches and administrators to do that. Bruce Arians has done that in Tampa Bay. Who's going to be next?