The NFL has been criticized on numerous occasions for doing the bare minimum when it comes to the systemic racism that is prevalent within teams when it comes to hiring coaches of color for the top posts of Head Coaches and lead coordinators. Despite the introduction of the Rooney Rule in 2002, nothing has really changed much. Teams have just found loopholes to get around it and one position coach in the league has had enough with the system.
The most recent case filed by former Miami Dolphins HC Brian Flores against the NFL accusing it of racism in hiring practices shook the league, now the Denver Broncos Running Back coach Tyrone Wheatley seems to have reached his breaking point as he spoke out publicly about the hiring practices in the league and how black coaches are being hired to positions that have little to no room for growth and progression.
Tyrone Wheatley claims black coaches in the NFL are already at a disadvantage due to their race:
Tyrone Wheatley claimed his role within the Broncos organization is a great example of how teams hire coaches of color to make it appear that they are diverse and do not consider race but they give them roles that make them feel stuck. Here is what he had to say.
“Already, being black, I’m at a disadvantage in the NFL. Then coaching the running backs, you’re not working with the quarterbacks. To some coaches, you’re in no man’s land,” the running back coach for the Broncos stated to USA Today.
The coach is of the opinion that since quarterbacks are the most important on any team, the coaches that are responsible for grooming them get the most attention and it is the second most important position after the role of Head Coach. The coaches who groom other key positions such as running backs and wide receivers seldom get any attention or credit as they are rarely put in the limelight. Their hard work goes unnoticed which severely limits any better opportunities to come their way.
Wheatle was hired by the Broncos after his role at Morgan State as the RB coach, he was also the RB coach for Michigan State and the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Denver, the RB position is pretty stacked with players such as Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams, and Mike Boone. Gordon and Williams have been the go-to backs for the team as they have proven their talent.
Williams is in his second season in the NFL, his first year was nothing short of amazing as he had 903 yards with 4 touchdowns with 2013 rushes. In year 2, he has managed to get 37 carries for 176 yards with no trips to the endzone. Melvin Gordon on the other hand was extended by the team this offseason, he had 8 touchdowns for 918 yards.
Despite the outstanding performances of his players, Tyrone Wheatley believes due to the culture across the NFL, there is virtually no room for him to maneuver to become the position coach of quarterbacks or get a lead job as an offensive coordinator. It is unfortunate to see that despite the league growing so much and now opening up positions for women, men of color still suffer for no apparent reason.