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Bucs' new head coach 1 of 4 current Black NFL team leaders

Four out of 12 Buccaneers head coaches have been Black throughout its history, the most of any NFL team.

TAMPA, Fla. — Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' creation in 1976 as part of the NFL expansion, the football team has had its fair share of head coaches. 

Until Wednesday evening, the man at the helm was Bruce Arians. But what was a surprise announcement for many, Arians said he would be hanging up the headset and retiring from coaching. He will transition to the Bucs' front office to focus on the strategic side of the game. 

Stepping in to take over as head coach of the Bucs is the current defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles. Bowles has had head coach experience before, coaching the New York Jets for several seasons before joining Tampa Bay in 2019 as part of Arians' coaching staff. 

Bowles will be the Bucs' fourth Black head coach in the team's 46-year history and the 12th overall. According to ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter, that's two more than any other NFL team has ever had. 

Tony Dungy was the first Black head coach to helm the Buccaneers. He was hired in 1996 to "reform" the Bucs, who were known for their lack of success, according to buccaneersfan.com. Raheem Morris became the second Black head coach in 2009. In his two seasons with the Bucs, he is credited with the best season turnaround in franchise history.

Lovie Smith, who got his coaching start with the Bucs under Dungy, returned to Tampa in 2014 to take over as head coach.

The NFL has come under fire recently for a lack of diversity in its head coaching positions and ownership, highlighted most recently by claims from former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

After he was fired in January, Flores said he believed race played a factor in the team's decision to show him the door. 

Flores, like other Black assistant coaches in the league, including Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, believes NFL owners — 30 of 32 are white — are simply more likely to choose leaders who reflect what they see in the mirror each morning.

Bowles is now one of only four Black head coaches in the NFL, along with Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, Houston's Lovie Smith and Miami's Mike McDaniel, who identifies as biracial. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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