New Bucs OC Harold Goodwin: Steve Wilks Firing 'Hurt' Given Lack of Minority NFL Head Coaches

Goodwin said that the Cardinals firing of Steve Wilks “hurt a little bit” amid the lack of minority head coaches in the league.

New Buccaneers assistant head coach Harold Goodwin commented on the lack of minority head coach hirings in the NFL on Friday. Goodwin, who has interviewed for head-coaching jobs before, articulated several roadblocks that he’s encountered in his own experience as an African American candidate.

“Every time I went in to interview, ‘You don’t call plays.’ Well, I did call plays in the preseason,” Goodwin said, per ESPN. “Are we looking for play-callers or are we looking for leaders? Leaders of men, who can help build an organization from the ground up on the football side. The next excuse was, ‘Well, we don’t like your staff.’ A lot of my staff is still coaching. Some guys are coordinators in the NFL now that have had a lot of success that were on my list.”

He also spoke about the difficulty in interviewing for head-coaching vacancies as an offensive line coach and commented on the Cardinals firing of Steve Wilks, one of the few African-American coaches in the league, after one season.

“That hurt a little bit,” Goodwin said. “He’s a friend of mine. We worked together back in the day with the Bears. It’s hard to build something from the ground up with one year. It’s like, ‘Hey, I want you to start this Fortune 500 company, but you’ve got one year.’ That’s impossible. And that’s what he was tasked with.”

Goodwin served as Arizona’s offensive coordinator from 2013 to 2017. 

After the Wilks firing, the Cardinals named former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury as the team’s new leader. Kingsbury is one of six hires that have been made to fill eight head-coaching vacancies, not a single one of which has been filled by a minority, despite the fact that five of the eight head coaches fired either during or after the 2018 season were black (Wilks, Browns’ Hue Jackson, the Jets’ Todd Bowles, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis and the Broncos’ Vance Joseph).

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin are the only current black head coaches in the NFL, although ESPN reported Friday that the Dolphins are “hoping” to hire Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, who is black and the son of Honduran immigrants.

Goodwin also alluded to teams not taking the Rooney Rule seriously on Friday. The rule, which was adopted in 2002, requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for head-coaching and GM positions.

Todd Bowles, the Bucs’ new defensive coordinator, also noted that NFL jobs are hard to come by no matter a candidate’s race.

“There are only 32 head jobs in the league,” Bowles said. “There [are] a lot of people who feel like they’re being discriminated against, and there [are] a lot of people that don’t get the chance, regardless of race. You just have to coach your hardest and do your best. If the opportunity comes up and you have a chance to grab it, you grab it. If not, you be the best coach you can be.”

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