Written by Mike Bonts
Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears are on the verge of making Super Bowl history.
Tomlin and Smith both led their teams to victories in the second round of the NFL playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers edged out the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 31-24 to advance to the AFC Championship game.
And the Chicago Bears reached the NFC Championship game after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 35-24.
If the Steelers and the Bears defeat the New York Jets and the Green Bay Packers respectively, Tomlin and Smith will become the first two black coaches to reach multiple Super Bowls.
The NFL’s first black coach was Fritz Pollard. Pollard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
The Chicago native served in World War I and in 1919 he joined the Akron Pros of the American Professional Football League, which was renamed the American Professional Football Association the next year. He led Akron to the championship in 1920 and became the first black coach in NFL history when he played and served as co-coach in 1921. The APFA was renamed the NFL in 1922.
Smith’s Bears were defeated by Tony Dungy’s Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl. And in 2008, Tomlin’s Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl.
By reaching the Super Bowl again, the success of both coaches should encourage NFL owners to give more black coaches and general mangers an opportunity. Currently, there are only six black coaches in the NFL.
Over the past year we have also seen the youngest coach in the NFL, and another Dungy prodigy hire (Raheem Morris), bring the total number of African American coaches to six.
Out of those five, four coached for Dungy. (Only ex-49er had coach Mike Singletary did not get his tutelage from Dungy) Think about it, three out of the last four years Tony Dungy or one of his understudies have been the head coach in a Super Bowl.
Hue Jackson has been formally be introduced as Head Coach of The Oakland Raiders tomorrow.
Jackson has 25 years of coaching experience in college and professional football and has beenan offensive coordinator at both levels.
Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis spoke about the dynamic 45-year-old Jackson: “The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in the hearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation.”