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NFL should add three new teams and mandate Black owners, Deion Sanders says


Trying to force old white men from a certain era to hire Black head coaches is a flawed plan, said Sanders, and he suggests Black ownership to improve diversity

The NFL should add three teams and require minority ownership for all of them, former league great and now HBCU head coach Deion Sanders said on his podcast Thursday.

“If you want equality, you have to start from the top-down,” Sanders said on 21st and Prime. “You don’t have equality starting from the middle up. You start from the top down. When you’re shooting for the coach, you’re in the middle. You’ve got to go to the top if you want equality.”

Currently, there are no Black owners in the NFL. On Tuesday, Allen Media Group CEO Byron Allen, who owns TheGrio, announced that he was preparing a bid to buy the Denver Broncos.

Deion Sanders
Jackson State University football coach Deion Sanders in Sept. 2021. (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The NFL has 32 teams and has discussed expanding to as many as 40, according to NFL insider Mike Florio. That would certainly open ample opportunities for prospective Black owners.

Sanders’ suggestion comes as the NFL reels from a lawsuit by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores alleging discrimination in hiring; and a statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell slamming his own league’s middling progress in diversity and exclusion efforts. 

The league also faces continued criticism for its lack of Black head coaches. While 70% of NFL players are Black, there are currently just two Black head coaches —- Houston’s Lovie Smith and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. Newly minted Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel identifies as multiracial.

But Sanders, on his podcast, goes further and argues the diversity debate over coaches misses the boat. Ownership results in the ultimate power in a league in which the average team has a valuation of $3.5 billion.

Deion Sanders
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Get more Black owners and they can make real change by offering more high-level opportunities to African Americans throughout the NFL, Sanders believes. 

In a nod to the Rooney Rule, which mandates interviewing minority candidates for head coaching jobs, Sanders said telling billionaires what to do doesn’t work.

“You cannot tell a man that’s very, very successful who and when they’re going to hire,” Sanders said.

Given that, his suggestion makes sense. 

Sanders played most of his career with the Dallas Cowboys and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He has since become, arguably, one of the most high-profile head coaches in college football in his position at Jackson State.

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