Black NFL coaches are not often recognized for their ability to achieve success in holding leadership positions within the league. They should be offered more head coaching job opportunities. Offering these roles to Black coaches contributes to a more diverse NFL community, which ultimately strengthens the league as a whole.
The Las Vegas Raiders recently named Antonio Pierce interim head coach after firing former head coach Josh McDaniels. In Pierce’s head coaching debut, the Raiders beat the New York Giants 30-6. The following week, he led Las Vegas to a 16-12 victory over the New York Jets.
Pierce has a long history in the game of football both as a player and a coach. He played nine seasons in the NFL as a linebacker with the Washington Redskins (currently known as the Commanders) and the New York Giants. Pierce was an undrafted rookie in 2001 on Washington’s roster. After 4 years in Washington, he went on to play his final five seasons in New York, earning a Pro Bowl selection and playing a key role in them winning Super Bowl XLII. After Pierce played in the NFL, he became head coach at Long Beach Poly High School from 2014 to 2017. Pierce additionally spent five seasons at Arizona State, starting as a linebackers coach, and later took on the roles of associate head coach and defensive coordinator.
The Compton native’s professional experience coaching and playing put him in the perfect position to transform the Raiders losing dilemma. Pierce acknowledged how he would lead the team in a winning direction and uplift them during his opening press conference.
“I’ve been around these guys for two years now as a linebackers coach. I made my presence known in the linebacker room, defensive line room, quarterback room and the running back room,” Pierce said. “I’m a former player; I touch football players. I can relate to them. I’ve done the same things they’ve done. I’ve walked the same paths they walked. I felt the same pain they felt.”
Pierce also explained what the Raiders organization means to him and how he took advantage of this opportunity.
“I was born a Raider,” Pierce stated. “I was born with the Raiders rolling in the Coliseum in L.A. I was rolling with N.W.A. talking Straight Out of Compton, rocking Raider hats. When an opportunity came to work with Josh McDaniels, Pat Graham, and Dave Ziegler, I jumped on it. That’s what set me up for this. I was born this way”.