The National Black Players Coalition (NBPC) has ramped up its call for Washington Commanders’ owner Josh Harris to shatter a century-long tradition by appointing the team’s first full-time Black head coach.
The Commanders, even before becoming Washington’s football team, trace their roots back to 1932 as the Boston Braves and were renamed under the ownership of George Preston Marshall in 1933. Despite a 92-year existence, the franchise has never appointed a full-time Black head coach, maintaining a notorious tradition that dates to its founding.
But the call for a Black head coach in the nation’s capital appears likely to fall on muted ears. ESPN has reported that Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will take the job once the Lions’ playoff run ends.
“It is a pretty foregone conclusion in Washington, albeit one that we’ll have to wait on to see with certainty, that Ben Johnson will wind up being the coach of the Commanders after the Lions’ season ends,” journalist Jeff Darlington said on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
Still, the NBPC highlighted in a news release that the team’s reputation is marred by being the last NFL franchise to integrate its players. When the team did integrate, it was only at the demand of President John F. Kennedy’s administration in 1962.
However, the NBPC noted that the legacy of discrimination persists at the head coaching position, perpetuating the lack of diversity within the organization.
Following the acquisition of the Commanders from former owner Dan Snyder, Harris and the team’s ownership group pledged to “earn your trust” and strive to be a franchise that fans can take pride in, NBPC officials noted. However, the NBPC, in an open letter dated August 14, 2023, reminded Harris of the responsibility to address not only the sexual harassment issues inherited from Snyder’s era but also to take a leadership role in tackling racial discrimination within the organization.
One of the critical issues highlighted by the NBPC is the historical absence of a full-time Black head coach in a predominantly African American community. The Commanders find themselves among the 11 NFL teams, including the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants, that have never appointed a Black full-time head coach.
Recent breakthroughs with teams like the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons hiring their first Black head coaches have only underscored the urgency for the Commanders to join the ranks of progress.
“The Las Vegas Raiders just hired their third Black head coach, Antonio Pierce,” NBPC officials wrote. “Will it take 100 years for Commanders fans to get their first Black head coach? Now is the time for the Commanders to make history by joining these teams to hire their first Black Head Coach.”
Source: Washington Informer