Black Community: The NFL’s unique head coach hiring pair of Antonio Pierce and Jerod Mayo.




( The National Football League’s head coaching carousel continues to spin and the two biggest head coaching candidates were NFL legend Bill Belichick and Michigan Wolverines National Champion Jim Harbaugh. Both men have won at high levels consistently throughout their careers and it is rare for NFL franchises to have the opportunity to hire one individual with that type of resume, let alone two. They have understandably garnered much of the NFL head coaching headlines in recent days including Harbaugh agreeing to coach the Los Angeles Chargers.

Related to Belichick being on the open market of NFL head coaches is the New England Patriots filling their head coaching position opening from within by hiring former Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo. Another franchise with championship history in its franchise’s past, the Las Vegas Raiders, decided to make another former NFL linebacker its head coach, Antonio Pierce. While Pierce filled in as the head coach on an interim basis for the Raiders during the 2023 season after Josh McDaniels’s firing, the promotion from within the franchise is another thing that he has in common with Mayo, who has served as the Patriots inside linebacker coach since 2019 before being promoted to head coach after Belichick’s departure. It also constitutes a rare occurrence of an African/Black coach being promoted from within an NFL franchise’s organization to be the head coach of an NFL franchise and two teams are doing that in the same head coaching cycle.

The NFL’s issues with the relatively small amount of African/Black head coaches has been covered extensively and should continue to be in a league where most players are African/Black. Among the 24 NFL organizations that did not have a head coaching opening this cycle, only four had African/Black head coaches and the promotions of Pierce and Mayo now makes that number six out of the 32 NFL franchises to now have African/Black head coaches.

It is important to note that just two years ago in 2022, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers promoted from within with Todd Bowles becoming head coach after being the team’s defensive coordinator but it remains rare for an African/Black coach to be promoted within a NFL franchise to head coach. Since 2013, there have been 10 “in-house promotions”, including Pierce and Mayo, of an NFL organization hiring a coach from the coaching staff the previous year to be the head coach of the same organization the following year and only three men have been African/Black coaches, which are Mayo, Pierce, and Bowles.

It says something about the respect in the Raiders and Patriots organizations that Pierce and Mayo had in those respective organizations that they were promoted to head coach. Antonio Pierce grew up a lifelong Raiders fan who had success as an interim head coach during the 2023 season including defeating defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City on Christmas Day. Mayo was selected as the “coach-in-waiting” to succeed the legendary Belichick in New England and has been an important part of the franchise for over a decade as a player and assistant coach. As former NFL linebackers, they also were known for their intelligence and work ethic which are descriptions that generally only get used describing white quarterbacks and white offensive coordinators becoming head coaches. It is truly rare to see two men like Antonio Pierce and Jerod Mayo be named head coaches of NFL franchises in the manner they did.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines