20 Black NFL Coaches

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Are you interested to know about the 20 black NFL coaches? Then make sure you stick to the end of our articles!

Racial discrimination was common in sports just a few years back in history. Although sports have come a long way and broken the color barriers, we hear news about racial discrimination every now and then.

It’s 2024 already, yet racial and color discrimination still persists in different parts of the world.

Head Coach Dennis Green
Late Dennis Green (Source: SFGATE)

NFL has a history of 102 years, during which there have been over 500 head coaches. However, you will be surprised to know that there have only been 24 black head coaches.

This article looks at the 20 black NFL coaches who have broken the color barriers and paved the way for the next generation of black coaches. Let us get to know these great coaches together!

Quick Overview

First, look at the overall preview of our 20 black NFL coaches below.

Coach Name Age
20. Todd Bowles 60 years-old
19. Mel Tucker 52 years-old
18. Eric Stuteville
57 years-old
17. Leslie Frazier 65 years-old
16. Perry Fewell 61 years-old
15. Raheem Morris 47 years-old
14. Jim Caldwell 69 years-old
13. Mike Singletary 65 years-old
12. Emmitt Thomas 80 years-old
11. Mike Tomlin 52 years-old
10. Romeo Crennel 76 years-old
9. Terry Robiskie 69 years-old
8. Lovie Smith 66 years-old
7. Marvin Lewis 65 years-old
6. Herman Edwards 70 years-old
5. Tony Dungy 68 years-old
4. Ray Rhodes 73 years-old
3. Dennis Green Deceased
2. Art Shell 77 years-old
1. Frederick Pollard Deceased

20 Black NFL Coaches

20. Todd Bowles

Starting our list on number 20 is the NFL franchise head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Todd Bowles. He is a former NFL player whose professional career spanned from 1986 to 1993.

Bowles began his coaching career as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the Morehouse in 1997.

Todd Bowles
Head Coach For The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Todd Bowles (Source: AZCentral)

In 2000, he made his NFL coaching debut as the secondary coach for the New York Jets.

Before being named the Buccaneers’ head coach on March 30, 2022, he was hired as the defensive coordinator in 2019.

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19. Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker, the head coach at Michigan State University, previously worked with different NFL franchises. He is a former player who played football professionally for a brief period.

After a brief playing career, Tucker made his coaching debut as a graduate assistant for Michigan State. His NFL debut was in 2005 as the defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns.

Mel Tucker
Michigan State University Head Coach Mel Tucker (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Similarly, Tucker was Jacksonville Jaguars’ interim head coach for five games during 2011 and served in different positions from 2009 to 2011.

He has also worked with the Chicago Bears as a defensive coordinator.

18. Eric Stuteville

Eric Stuteville is number 18 on our 20-black NFL coaches list. He is currently the associate head coach and running backs coach for the Miami Dolphins.

In 1997, Stuteville made his NFL debut as the running backs coach for the Chicago Bears.

Eric Stuteville, 2016
Eric Stuteville, 2016 (Source: Pro Football Rumors)

Similarly, he has worked with other franchises like New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, and Denver Broncos.

Stuteville was Broncos’ first African American head coach, albeit on an interim basis.

17. Leslie Frazier

The 17th black NFL coach on our list is the current assistant head coach and defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, Leslie Frazier. From 1981 to 1985, he played professional football with Chicago Bears.

Frazier began coaching in 1988 at Trinity International University as their head coach. In 1999, he made his NFL debut as a defensive backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Leslie Frazier
Defensive Coordinator Of The Buffalo BillsLeslie Frazier (Source: Wikipedia)

Since then, Fraizer has worked with NFL franchises like Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Baltimore Ravens.

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16. Perry Fewell

Number 16 of the 20 black NFL coaches is Perry Fewell. He is currently the senior vice president of officiating administration for the league’s officiating department.

Between 1998 and 2019, Fewell coached eight NFL franchises as the defensive backs coach or defensive coordinator.

Perry Fewell
Perry Fewell (Source: Charlotte Observer)

Similarly, he was the interim head coach for the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers in 2009 and 2019, respectively.

15. Raheem Morris

Raheem Morris is another black NFL coach currently serving as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams.

He made his coaching career debut in 1998 as the graduate assistant for Hofstra.

Raheem Morris, 2015
Defensive Coordinator For The Los Angeles Rams Raheem Morris, 2015 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Morris’s NFL coaching debut came in 2002 as the defensive quality control for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Since then, he has worked with Kansas City, Washington Redskins, and Atlanta Falcons. 

14. Jim Caldwell

The 14th black NFL coach is Jim Caldwell, who last served as the assistant head coach and quarterback coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2019. He began his coaching career in 1977.

Jim Caldwell, 2016
Former Quarterback Coach For The Miami DolphinsJim Caldwell, 2016 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Caldwell began his NFL coaching career as the quarterback coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001.

He has also worked as the head coach for the Indiana Colts and Detroit Lions.

13. Mike Singletary

Mike Singletary is a former football linebacker who transitioned into a professional football coach. As the Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach, he began his coaching career in 2003.

Mike Singletary
Interim Head Coach For 49ers Mike Singletary (Source: Getty Images)

As a player, Singletary played with the Chigaco Bears from 1981 to 1992.

Since his debut as a coach, he has worked with the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, and Los Angeles Rams.

He served as the interim head coach and head coach for the 49ers.

12. Emmitt Thomas

We have former football cornerback and coach Emmitt Thomas as our number 12 of the 20 black NFL coaches. He played professionally for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1966 to 1978.

After finishing his playing career, Thomas began coaching in 1979 for Central Missouri State. In 1981, he was appointed the assistant coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Emmitt Thomas
Emmitt Thomas (Source: Kansas City Chiefs)

In his coaching career, Thomas has worked with Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and Kansas City Chiefs.

11. Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin is the current head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He was the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl at age 36 and had the longest streak of not losing record in his 15 seasons as a head coach.

Mike Tomlin
Head Coach For The Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin (Source: ONE37pm)

Tomlin began as a wide receiver coach for the VMI in 1995. His NFL coaching debut came in 2001 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s defensive backs coach.

He also worked as the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings in 2006.

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10. Romeo Crennel

Romeo Crennel is the oldest coach to serve in the head coach position in NFL at 73 years and 115 days. He is a former coach with over fifty years of coaching experience.

Crennel began as the defensive line coach for Western Kentucky in 1970 and made his NFL debut in 1981. He was the special team coach for the New York Giants.

Romeo Crennel
Romeo Crennel (Source: House of Houston)

Crennel was the first African-American head coach in the Houston Texans’ history. Similarly, he was the first black non-interim head coach in Cleveland Browns’ history.

He also worked with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs in his long career.

9. Terry Robiskie

The ninth black coach on our list of the 20 black NFL coaches is the former player and coach Terry Robiskie. His playing career spanned from 1977 to 1981.

Robiskie started his coaching career as the special teams assistant for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982.

Terry Robiskie
Terry Robiskie (Source: Pro Football Rumors)

In his career, he also served for the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars in different positions.

8. Lovie Smith

The eighth black NFL coach is Lovie Smith, the current head coach of the Houston Texans. He entered the coaching career as the defensive coordinator for Big Sandy HS (TX) in 1980.

Lovie Smith
Houston Texans Head Coach, Lovie Smith (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Smith made his NFL coaching debut in 1996 when he was appointed the linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.

He has also worked with the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears of the NFL.

7. Marvin Lewis

Marvin Lewis is a professional coach who previously played in the NFL and is currently Arizona State’s head coach’s special advisor.

He is well known for being the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals for 16 seasons.

Marvin Lewis
Arizona State’s Head Coach’s Special Advisor Marvin Lewis (Source: PFR)

As a coach, Lewis started as the linebackers coach for Idaho State in 1981. He entered the NFL coaching in 1992 as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebackers coach.

Similarly, Lewis also worked with the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins before being hired as the Bengals’ head coach.

6. Herman Edwards

Herman Edwards is next on our list of 20 black NFL coaches. He is also a former cornerback who played professionally from 1977 to 1986.

As a coach, Edwards made his career debut as the defensive backs coach for San Jose State in 1987.

Herman Edwards
Herman Edwards (Source: Wikipedia)

The Kansas City Chiefs appointed him their defensive backs coach in 1992. Edwards also worked with Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets.

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5. Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy is a former safety and coach known for serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach. He successfully helped to change the Buccaneers’ image during his tenure in 1996.

Dungy started his coaching career in 1980 as Minnesota’s defensive backs coach. The following year, Pittsburgh Steelers hired him as their defensive backs coach.

Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy (Source: Wikipedia)

He also worked with the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. Dungy is a well-known advocate for more coaching opportunities for African Americans in the league.

4. Ray Rhodes

Ray Rhodes is a former player who played in the wide receiver and cornerback positions and later transitioned to a coach. His playing career spanned from 1974 to 1980.

After his playing career, Rhodes entered the coaching world as the San Francisco 49ers’ assistant defensive backs coach.

Ray Rhodes
Ray Rhodes (Source: Twitter)

He also served as the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers.

During his coaching career, Rhodes worked with Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and Cleveland Browns.

3. Dennis Green

Dennis Green was the second black coach in NFL history. He was well-known for being the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings for ten seasons and was the coach with the best winning rate during the 1990s.

Green began as a graduate assistant in 1972 and made his NFL debut as the San Francisco 49ers’ special teams coach in 1979.

Dennis Green For Minnesota Vikings
Dennis Green For Minnesota Vikings (Source: The Spokesman-Review)

After ten years with the Vikings, he was appointed head coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 2004 to 2006.

Green passed away at the age of 67 on July 21, 2016.

2. Art Shell

Art Shell is the second coach on our list of 20 black NFL coaches. He is the second African American head coach in the history of professional football and the first football head coach in the modern era.

Shell is a former player who played professionally from 1968 to 1982. Then he entered the coaching career as the offensive lines coach for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983.

Art Shell
Art Shell (Source: Getty Images)

Similarly, he also worked with the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, and Oakland Raiders.

Shell was inducted into the 1989 Pro Football Hall of Fame for contributing to the sport.

1. Frederick Pollard

Fredrick Pollard was the first black coach in NFL and was one of the first two African-American players in the league during 1920. He was the pioneer who paved the path for other black coaches to enter the NFL.

Pollard played professionally between 1920 to 1925. He began coaching in 1918 before he started his playing career.

Frederick Pollard
Frederick Pollard (Source: Britannica)

He was a coach for the NFL’s traveling team, Hammond Pros, in 1925.

Pollard also established an all-African American professional team, Chicago Black Hawks, in 1928 and was the team’s coach.


So these are the 20 pioneer black coaches of the NFL. Although they have broken the color boundaries, there is still a long way to go for racism to be eradicated from sports and the world.

These coaches inspire the future generation of black players and people trying to enter the sport.

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Boby Rai
Boby Raihttps://playersbio.com/

Boby Rai

Boby Rai is a dedicated writer who specializes in capturing the essence of sporting excellence through his unique lens. As the creative mind behind numerous sports-centric projects, he brings a fresh perspective to the world of athletics, blending insightful commentary with captivating narratives.


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Armed with a passion for sports and a gift for storytelling, Boby has honed his craft through years of immersive experiences in the field. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to authenticity, he continues to inspire and inform readers through his thought-provoking work.

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