TAMPA, Fla — What the Bucs accomplished on the field Sunday night was nothing short of historic, and as they took on football's biggest stage, social media heaped on the praise -- not just for the players, but for the team's diverse coaching staff.
“You talk about racial inequality, systematic injustice, the fact that they have allowed Bruce Arians to have a black offensive coordinator, a black defensive coordinator, a black assistant head coach, a black special teams coach says a lot about Bruce, but also a lot about the Glazer family,” said Shaun King, a former Bucs quarterback who played on the 2003 Super Bowl championship team.
Yet, despite the league being 57-percent Black, it's rare to see this type of diversity at the top.
"It's this false choice that is presented often that you can either have diversity, or you can go for excellence, and that somehow diversity will compromise excellence, well we've just seen that's not the case,” J.A. Adande said.
Adande is an ESPN contributor and runs the sports journalism program at Northwestern University. He told 10 Tampa Bay’s Emerald Morrow the Bucs are setting a tone that the rest of the league should be following.
"You need to send the message that there is a place for African Americans in this game, beyond just on the field,” he said.
When asked what took the NFL so long to even get to this point, Adande said the most benign answer is systemic racism, and the alternatives are to believe that there aren’t qualified African American and female coaches, or there is racist and sexist intent.
For Adande and King, the hope is owners and the rest of the league will take note and take action to create an equal playing field for those who have the talent and tenacity to rise to the top.
“Bruce Arians was committed to having as diverse to hiring African American, and women on his coaching staff, and yet that commitment didn't keep him, or prevent him from having the best staff possible from having a championship-caliber coaching staff,” Adande said.
"A player is going to ask the coach, 'how are you going to make me better?' Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians said last week. “He doesn't really care if the answer comes from a male or female, black, brown, yellow…”
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