Super Bowl teams share coordinators passed over for top jobs
MIAMI — It’s common for coordinators in the Super Bowl to have a head coaching position with a new team waiting for them after the game.
Not this year.
The Kansas City Chiefs have perhaps the most dynamic offense in the NFL and the San Francisco 49ers feature one of the stingiest defenses in the league. The men in charge of both units got interviews but were passed over.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy interviewed with the Panthers, Browns and Giants during the team’s playoff bye. Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also interviewed with the Browns.
Cleveland hired Kevin Stefanski, who was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator, after Saleh’s defense shut down the Vikings in a 27-10 win in the divisional round.
So when two minority candidates with obvious qualifications miss out on coaching jobs, many people question whether the NFL has a diversity issue.
There are just three African-American head coaches in the league and only one minority — Ron Rivera — was hired to fill one of the five vacancies this offseason.
“Clearly, we are not where we want to be on this level,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday about the Rooney Rule. “It’s clear we need to change and do something different. There’s no reason to expect we’re going to have a different outcome next year without those kinds of changes and we’ve already begun engaging in those changes.”
Bieniemy and Saleh aren’t complaining, though others are outraged for them.
“I had an opportunity to interview for three jobs,” Bieniemy said. “One thing I can say, I had a great process, a great discussion. Each and every interview is different. ... It’s a blessing and it’s always great to be mentioned. It’s always great to have that opportunity to be considered in those roles.”
Saleh inherited the worst defense in the league in 2017 and turned it into the No. 2-ranked defense this season.
“I just go about my business best I can,” said Saleh, who is Lebanese-American. “Judge me for who I am, not for my ethnicity.”
Niners cornerback Richard Sherman blamed the media.
“I put more of the responsibility on you — on the media, because you’re asking people who have no say in it,” Sherman said. “You’re asking players. ... Ask the dudes who have all the power in the world to hire and fire these men.”