Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL

Advancing the Ball
Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL
Duru, N Jeremi
9780199736003
28/02/2011
£16.99
Hb
Oxford University Press USA

Two days before Super Bowl XLI in 2007, the game's two opposing head coaches posed with the trophy one of them would hoist after the contest.

It was a fairly unremarkable event, except that both coaches were African American—a fact that was as much of a story as the game itself.

As Jeremi Duru reveals in Advancing the Ball, this unique milestone resulted from the work of a determined group of people whose struggles to expand head coaching opportunities for African Americans ultimately changed the National Football League. Since the league's desegregation in 1946, opportunities had grown plentiful for African Americans as players but not as head coaches—the byproduct of the NFL's Old Boy's network and lingering stereotypes of blacks' intellectual inferiority. Although Major League Baseball and the NBA had, over the years, made progress in this regard, the NFL's head coaches were almost exclusively white up until the mid-1990s.

Advancing the Ball chronicles the campaign of former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Wooten to right this wrong and undo decades of discriminatory head coach hiring practices—an initiative that finally bore fruit when he joined forces with attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran. Together with a few allies, the triumvirate galvanized the NFL's African American assistant coaches to stand together for equal opportunity and convinced the league to enact the "Rooney Rule," which stipulates that every team must interview at least one minority candidate when searching for a new head coach. In doing so, they spurred a movement that would substantially impact the NFL and, potentially, the nation.

  • The only book to focus on the integration of NFL coaching, rather than playing
  • with a foreword by Tony Dungy, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts
  • the author was a part of the struggle for equal hiring practices for NFL coaches and provides an insider's account

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