There was a time, not all that long ago, when the Cincinnati Bengals were a team to emulate when it came to diversity.
They made Marvin Lewis just the seventh Black head coach in NFL history, and helped Leslie Frazier, Hue Jackson and Vance Joseph on the path to that rare fraternity. Jackson was the rare Black offensive coordinator when he held that position in Cincinnati in 2014 and 2015. Katie Blackburn, the Bengals executive vice president and daughter of current owner Mike Brown, chaired the NFL’s diversity committee.
The Bengals were so intentional about breaking down barriers for coaches of color that the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a non-profit organization that champions diversity in the NFL, even gave Blackburn an award for the family’s efforts.
Now, the Bengals are the worst in the NFL, their staff a reflection of why the league is still struggling with systemic racism in hiring almost two decades after the adoption of the Rooney Rule.
The Bengals have the least-diverse staff in the NFL this season, with non-white coaches making up 24% of Zac Taylor’s staff. No other NFL staff has less than 30% non-white coaches.