Unlike white head coaches, who underperform, black coaches rarely get another chance to lead.
Brian Flores' racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL has given nearly every African-American coach a CT scan and permission to speak about their experiences interviewing for head coaching jobs. So far, few of them have taken the opportunity to directly criticize the team owners, from whom they may one day need final approval to land one of those 32 coveted spots.
That includes Raheem Morris, defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Morris recently spoke about his experiences in the interview process. According to Morris, he has interviewed for about five head coaching jobs over the years. The most recent we know of was his run for the Minnesota Vikings head coaching job, which he lost to Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell. While he's predictably neutral in his opinion of Flores and the NFL, he also didn't seem aware of how he'd fallen short over the years, telling the Los Angeles Times: "I didn't feel that way at any time. from them".
No one can tell Morris what to think about his own experience, but his constant attempts to capture the landing are spot on.
The Rooney Rule was instituted to give minority candidates ample opportunity to shine and eventually turn that interview experience into jobs, but that system has been shattered. Morris has been a prominent personality for more than a decade. In 2009, he rose through the ranks and, at 32, became the youngest head coach in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Lane Kiffin. He was a few months younger than Josh McDaniels, who was hired to manage the Denver Broncos.
The three child prodigies were burned. McDaniels and Kiffin charred their careers in less than two seasons, while Morris lasted three.
Kiffin bounced back immediately as head coach of the Tennessee Vols, finishing his only season there 7-6 and leaving an angry crowd in his wake as he raced to USC. Since he fired up for the third time, Kiffin has had a chance to redeem his credentials as Alabama's offensive coordinator, head coach at FIU and in the same role at Ole Miss.
McDaniels returned to the Patriots machine and emerged from his career prospects unscathed. He even took the Indianapolis Colts job in 2018 before canceling the day before his induction news conference and has been entertaining vacancies ever since. McDaniels will start the 2022 season as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after playing three seasons in New England with vanilla offensive plays.
The 2011 Bucs were the youngest team in the NFL during Morris's 4-12 final season. Having risen to the firmament of the professional football coaching profession, those opportunities did not wait for Morris on the other side. He returned to Washington as defensive backs coach, where he was on the same coaching staff as Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur. His tenure in Washington ended in 2014, prompting Morris to reinvent himself as an offensive coach with the Falcons.
Morris had to climb a mountain to get back into deck circle training while Kiffin and McDaniels took the chairlift back to the top. He is still going up. NFL front offices are stripping McVay's assistant coaching staff faster than the eye can see. However, the first-year-to-veteran defensive champion who runs McVay's Super Bowl defensive unit will likely go another year without mastering another attempt at running an NFL franchise.