Do the NFL Players Have the Power to Demand More Black Owners, Coaches and General Managers?



Jimmy Johnson said on a sports show “get black general mangers, if you get black general managers, then it’s going to open up opportunities for black coaches, but you got to get black general managers, they are the decision makers.”


Jimmy Johnson served as head coach in the National Football League for nine seasons. Jimmy Johnson has been coaching on the collegiate level since 1979 and the NFL since 1988. Johnson won two Super Bowl titles with the Dallas Cowboys. It is safe to say that Johnson is very familiar with the “mind” of the NFL.

When I say “mind” I am referring to the default behavior, quality of presumptions, thinking and understanding of all the participants in the NFL. As Kapil Gupta likes to say, humans default to their defaults.


Does it take black people to hire black people?

My nephew sent me a Tik Tok where I heard Jimmy Johnson say the quote above, and after I listened to it twice, I responded with “he said you got to get black GMs to hire black coaches - he just told a truth of the mind of the NFL-so do you need black owners to hire black GMs?”


I am not a huge sports fan, but after I saw that Tik Tok I had to do a little investigating because I pondered the question, “does it take black people to hire black people?”

The NFL is made up of 32 teams and 1696 players. Of the 32 teams, there are 2 black General Managers Chris Grier and Andrew Berry and 2 black head coaches Mike Tomlin and David Culley.


Since the NFL’s inception, there has been around 110 people to have owned or have a controlling interest in NFL teams. Out of this select group, all but two have been white. Jacksonville Jaguars is owned by Shahid Khan who is Pakistani American and Kim Pegula who is Asian American co-owns the Buffalo Bills.

We live in America. And America is considered to be a “democracy.” A democracy basically means “control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.” The majority of the participants in the NFL is clearly black or African American but the controlling power is held by the owners who identify as white.


According to the census.gov, the white race make up 76.3% and black or African American race make up 13.4%. Now I am not going to go to deep into what race is. You can research that to determine if race is real or a created fiction that is used to manipulate minds for yourself.

But because of our conditioning, we do seem to understand humanity in terms of our race. Both black and white are labels this society originally created for political power. It’s not the label of black or white itself that is the problem as it is the presumption of qualities that come along with these labels. It’s the mind that comes with the label that causes our frustration and division.


White Americans are humans. People who consider themselves white in America, however, have very diverse ancestry. White ancestry includes, but not limited to, Germans, Irish, English, Italian, French, Polish, Scottish, Scottish-Irish, Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish.


Despite having an origin that may not have been considered white at the commencement of America, such as Italians, Greek, Spaniards, Irish, Swedes, Germans, Finns, Russians, and Frenchman's, these people while in America regularly betray their specific heritage for the simplistic but powerful title of being “white” in America. If they all had to choose each of these other ancestral designations, there would be no white majority just like there is no black minority. But truth for many is never in reality, it is in the perception believed.


The NFL is a great example of perceived power being more real than actual power. Just like the paper signs on the bathroom doors that used to say “White Only,” there is an invisible sign marked “White Preferred” for NFL team ownership and leadership that our minds honor.


But here is the rub: the NFL has 1696 players that make up the teams, and almost 60% of them consider themselves as black or African Americans. Either these players have no power or they perceive themselves powerless.

I know what many of you are going to say. It takes money to have an NFL team and these players can’t risk their checks and their livelihoods trying to buck up against the powers to be. And you are correct. But it also takes players to have a NFL team. You can either complain about a problem or use the power you do have to correct the problem or just shut up, play the game or watch the game being played. You can either wait until the time is right, or make right the time you have to change what needs to change with a sense of urgency.

If the money is more powerful than the players, then that is what is true. But every Sunday, Monday and Thursday, these players are making a choice and they are also making a statement about the power they believe themselves to have or not have. Maybe the players don’t care to have more black representation in the NFL leadership. And maybe the audience of over 22 million that watch the game don’t either.

If the NFL or the audience who watch the game religiously wanted more black coaches, owners, and general managers, they would have them. That is truth.


I know you are going to say of course they want blacks in leadership positions, but it takes time. But I don’t think their default minds do. Because if they did, they would use their power to demand more black coaches, general managers and owners and be willing to suffer the consequence for that stance now.

What default mind do these players have about themselves and about the team leadership that keep them from using the power they do have? What default mind do we as the watchers of the game have?


In conclusion, if it took black people to hire black people, then wouldn’t we already have a majority of owners and coaches being black since 60% of the players are already black? Now this is a bottom up real democracy approach, whereas Johnson’s argument is a top down American democracy approach. I don’t know which approach is right, but clearly to date, the power is not at the bottom despite 60% of the players identifying as black or African American.

The change of having more black owners, general managers and coaches in the NFL will never come from the top down or the bottom up until the dominate mind of the business of the NFL changes.


It takes a changing of the defaults to change the landscape of the NFL. Not just the default minds of the team owners, general managers and coaches, but the default minds of the players must change as well. The players must begin to see themselves as owners. Until this begin to happen, it’s only right that the power stays where the power is appreciated—with the owners who believe themselves to be owners.


There is no power in the majority if the majority doesn’t have the mind to perceive (and use) their own power.


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