AVENTURA, Fla. — Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said he’s not disappointed that he hasn’t received an NFL head-coaching offer despite interviewing for positions in each of the past two years.
“Everyone wants to hear I’m disappointed,” Bieniemy told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on Thursday as the Chiefs continued preparations for Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers. “That is not the case. We’re still playing. We’ve got one of the biggest games this weekend. So I’m really looking forward to having that opportunity to share in this moment in time with our organization, our players and also, too, our coaching staff.
“I mean, that’s everybody’s dream to be one of the 32 head coaches. That’s everybody’s dream. Someday, possibly, it may happen. But right now, the only thing that matters is making sure our guys, our players and our coaching staff is focused on the goal — and that’s making sure we play to the end of that final echo of the whistle come Sunday.”
Bienemy’s comments come one day after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said changes to the Rooney Rule are needed and that “we’ve already begun engaging in those changes.” He offered few specifics, indicating he’s soliciting a number of outside sources to discuss whether the league needs to revise the longstanding requirement that teams interview at least one minority candidate for head coach and general manager openings.
The NFL instituted the Rooney Rule several years ago to guarantee that minority candidates like Bieniemy, who is black, have a chance to interview for vacancies and become head coaches. But the NFL has hired just three minorities to the 20 vacancies over the past three years.
Overall, the NFL has just four minority head coaches.
“Every coach may have a different gripe about whatever comes up in their own organization,” Bieniemy told ESPN when asked whether minority assistant coaches were being treated unfairly as a group. “But we all have an opportunity to do what we do. OK? I love my job. I have no complaints in what I do and how I do it. I know one thing: When it’s all said and done with, we get to line up and play football. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m a football coach.”
Bieniemy wouldn’t comment when asked what changes he’d like to make to the Rooney Rule.
“It’s not for me to comment, because I can only speak to my process,” Bieniemy said. “… I’ve been blessed to have an opportunity to interview. Now, whether they hire me or not, that’s up to them. I work my tail off to be placed in that situation. I’m going to continue chopping wood, going to continue being me. Whatever is going to happen down the line is going to happen. I’ll let the process take care of itself.”
Washington Redskins coach Ron Rivera was the only minority coach hired by the five teams that made changes after the season.
“I think we’ve got to continue to create more opportunities where we can see young minority coaches get more opportunities to develop,” Rivera said on ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo show Thursday. “And that’s probably the first big step. As we put them in positions where people are going to notice their development, their growth, that’s probably one of the big things you’ve got to see.”
Rivera pointed to the NFL’s annual career development symposium for young coaches as a valuable asset for minority coaches, but he said he’d also like the league to create a program where established minority coaches can mentor younger assistants. He also said young minority coaches need to have advocates who bring their names to the forefront.